Where Things Stand -- Impact of Federal Government Shutdown Varies

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Publication date: 
16 November 1995

The closure of significant portions of the federal government this
week has had a varying impact on departments and agencies tracked
by FYI.  Here is a brief summary of where things now stand on this,
the third day of shutdown:

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY:  One day before the shutdown started,
President Clinton signed the Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Act for FY 1996.  DOE, along with the Departments of
Agriculture and Transportation, are the only three federal
departments functioning normally this week.  In signing DOE's
appropriation, Clinton stated, "The bill supports the
Administration's proposal to reinvent the Department of Energy to
improve the way it serves the American people....  [T]he bill
provides full funding for one of my key science initiatives to
enhance the operation and availability of the Department of
Energy's science facilities, giving more researchers access to
these facilities to conduct more basic and applied research.  This
is a modest investment that will leverage a significant return from
the scientific community."  It should be noted that the bill
contains funding for two major DOE national laboratories located in
New Mexico, a state represented by Senator Pete Domenici (R), a key
player in budget negotiations.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION and NASA:  Funding for these two
agencies is provided in the VA, HUD, Independent Agencies
Appropriations Bill.   This bill is one of many Congress has yet to
complete.  Next week, Congress may pass a separate appropriation
for some VA programs, which would reduce pressure on the need to
pass the entire bill.  Approximately 94% of NASA's 21,000 civil
servants have been affected by the furlough.  NSF is now being
staffed by 22 employees.

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE:  Republican efforts to include Commerce
dismantlement legislation in the debt ceiling bill collapsed late
last week when Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI) requested that the
Senate delete this provision from the debt bill.  Abraham, a major
force for dismantlement in the Senate, declared, "the simple fact
is that this is not the right time and this is not the right
vehicle."  The Senate agreed by voice vote to delete this
provision.  In all likelihood, this is not the end of this effort,
Abraham telling fellow senators, "It is my hope that at another
time - hopefully very soon - we will have the opportunity to look"
at similar legislation.  Added the chairman of the House Republican
Conference, John A. Boehner (R-OH), "In the end, the [elimination]
of the Commerce Department is going to happen.  It may not be on
this bill, but it is going to happen."  Meanwhile, Commerce
furloughed over 25,000 employees this week, since Congress has not
sent an FY 1996 Commerce appropriations bill to the White House.

The outlook for a resolution of this dispute is very clouded.  Last
week, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) warned, "If we have to
shut down government for a month, we will."  All of this serves as
a prelude to a much larger conflict which will soon be coming to a
head: a massive budget reconciliation bill the President has
already indicated that he will veto.  Members of Congress are now
being told that they may be celebrating Thanksgiving in Washington
this year.