Government shutdown? Not for FMCSA, trucking regs

Updated Oct 2, 2013

truck highwayEnforcement of trucking regulations and the operation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will not be affected by the federal government shutdown that began Oct. 1, says the Department of Transportation in its shutdown plan. 

The federal government went into a partial shutdown at midnight after Congress failed to pass a bill funding the government by the Oct. 1 appropriations deadline. 

Analysis: Let’s not forget — Highway funding bill expires in just 365 days

FMCSA, along with the Federal Highway Administration, is funded by the Highway Trust Fund and multi-year appropriations bills, like the MAP-21 highway funding law, meaning the two agencies do not rely on Congress’ annual appropriations for funding. 

The DOT’s shutdown plan says FMCSA “has sufficient balances of liquidating cash to operate for a limited period during a lapse of annual appropriations,” and that the operations for both FMCSA and FHWA will “continue as normal.” 

Moreover, none of FMCSA’s 1,102 employees are being furloughed, and none of the FHWA’s 2,914 employees will be furloughed, DOT’s plan says. 

However, 18,481 of the DOT’s 55,468 employees will be furloughed, the document says.

The shutdown is the first since 1996. The main hang up for legislators is the Affordable Care Act (also called “Obamacare”), and the House has passed several bills that either strip the law of funding or delay key provisions of the bill, including the individual health insurance mandate.

On the day the government shutdown began, the key provision within the ACA was put in place with opening of the online health insurance exchanges — read more about accessing them to explore coverage in this link.  

The Senate, whose bill includes no changes to the healthcare law, has rejected the House’s attempts to thwart Obamacare. President Barack Obama has also said he would veto any bills that delay or defund the law.

Drivers on federal shutdown
On Overdrive‘s Facebook page Sept. 30, drivers responded in numbers to a question probing the potential impact of the shutdown on the trucking industry. A question posted there asked for recollections of the last such shutdown in 1996, with the overwhelming majority of on-topic respondents recalling no effect on their operations whatsoever other than some rest areas losing and a couple plus-sides: “For trucking in the D.C. Area it was great because you had less traffic,” wrote Rob Touchtone, “such as I am seeing today. So this tells me that our government is too big. Time for them to shrink in size and maybe pay for their own health care.”


Stephen Massatt likewise noted “half as much traffic in downtown Chicago with all the government workers home. Let’s keep it that way.”

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Hal Kiah, furthermore, noted the 1996 shutdown didn’t bother his operation “one bit,” but he urged lawmakers, particularly on the Democratic side, to once and for all tamp down their spin machines and find common ground:  “The White House and Senate are blowing this whole mess out of proportion. Do I want a shutdown? Not really, but I’m not going be handed a bag of manure from them either, with the lies about how it is going to affect those receiving [Social Security], Medicare or anything else!… They should agree to either de-fund the healthcare mess, or delay it for a year until they get all the bugs worked out of it. Then, if they can’t … de-fund it and repeal it!”

You can find more in this story on readers’ reactions to the health care law.