Highlights & News
Federal Government Resumes Operations
On October 17, 2013, the House & Senate passed, and the President signed, HR 2775, the compromise package developed by the Senate leadership to extend the debt ceiling and fund the Federal government. As of yesterday morning, the federal government shutdown has ended and the nation narrowly averted hitting the debt ceiling.
HR 2775 does several things: (1) includes a three month continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government at FY2013 levels through January 15, 2014; (2) extends the debt limit through February 7, 2014; (3) makes a few technical adjustments to FY2014 spending; and (4) includes a provision that requires the Department of Health & Human Services to verify incomes for Affordable Care Act subsidies.
While HR 2775 does get the government back up and running, and avoids a debt crisis at this time, it essentially sets the country up for the same routine in early 2014. The CR is set to expire a few weeks before we once again hit the debt ceiling. While the House & Senate have agreed to go to conference on FY2014 spending bills, which is certainly a positive step, the solutions in this latest bill are temporary and Congress could very well find itself having this same fight in a few short months, leading to yet another government shutdown.
While we are pleased that the federal government has resumed operations, we can anticipate some delays as the various federal Agencies get back to business. We have encountered database operations at several government agencies to be slow and / or nonresponsive. And with regard to EX Approvals, a key concern for the fireworks industry, per PHMSA, “ it will take a considerable amount of time to overcome being shutdown for 16 days”. Accordingly, we can expect to see delays and a possible backlog in processing approval applications over the next month.