Effects of a DHS Shutdown

The Department of Homeland Security narrowly avoided a partial shutdown last week as Congress passed a last minute, week long extension of the department’s funding. With that extension set to expire this Friday, March 6, at 11:59 p.m., we take a look at just what would happen in the event that Congress cannot pass a bill to continue funding the DHS.

The Department of Homeland Security includes but is not limited to the following government agencies: U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services, and the U.S. Secret Service.

During a federal funding hiatus, or lapse in appropriations, the Department of Homeland Security must cease operations according to the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA). The ADA details that all DHS services except for those “involving the safety of human life or the protection of property” are not allowed to be funded.

Furthermore, the ADA explains that all Federal officials are prohibited from entering into contracts, incurring obligations, or performing activities without having a current appropriation, unless authorized by law.

In terms of the department’s workforce, about 85% of its approximate 230,000 employees will continue to work in the event of a shutdown. The remaining 15% of employees, deemed “non-essential,” will be told to not report to work. Unfortunately, all DHS employees will not be paid until Congress passes a new bill funding the department.

Most visibly, almost all of the Transportation Security Administration employees are considered essential, and thus, security at airports should operate as normal.

As of now, the two sides of the political aisle are yet to agree on whether or not another vote will occur before this Friday’s funding expiration date. Keep an eye on the news late this week for updates on the situation and pending shutdown. In the meantime, learn more about the DHS procedures related to a lapse in appropriations here.

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