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Truckers will keep working on Tuesday and trucking agencies will, too

As of Friday afternoon Sept. 27, it remained unclear whether the Democrat-led Senate and Republican-run House would be able to come to a compromise bill and get President Barack Obama’s signature on it in time to prevent a shut-down Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

By DOROTHY COX
The Trucker Staff

9/30/2013

Truckers will keep on working should government funding come to a dead stop this week or after Nov. 15, and so will federal transportation agencies, possibly with fewer employees, according to two memos.

And a U.S. Department of Transportation statement says contingency plans have been put in place just in case.

A House government funding bill — which previously had included language to strip out Obamacare money — would keep federal agencies working Tuesday Oct. 1, when the government’s new fiscal year begins, through Dec. 15, while a Senate bill shortens that to Nov. 15.

However, as of this weekend, it remained unclear whether the Democrat-led Senate and Republican-run House would be able to agree on a compromise bill and get President Barack Obama’s signature on it in time to prevent a shut-down Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

Government appropriations are set to expire today at midnight.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief Anne S. Ferro sent out a memo saying, “should Congress fail to prevent a lapse in FY14 appropriations, no FMCSA personnel will be furloughed.  You should plan to report to work on your normal schedule on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.”

“Should a lapse occur,” Ferro said, “FMCSA operations would continue as normal.  The FMCSA, like FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), is funded through the Highway Trust Fund and as such would be able to continue to operate within available reserves.”

Ferro in her memo referred to another memo sent out by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

In his memo, Foxx — who last month said the government spending debate impedes infrastructure — stated that if a shutdown should occur, “In consultation with our Office of General Counsel, we have determined which of our activities may continue under these legal requirements.

“Similarly, we have determined which employees would continue to report to work in the event of a lapse in funding, and which employees would be placed on furlough.  Some employees will be excepted because their work directly addresses emergency circumstances, while others will not be subject to furlough because their positions are not supported by annual appropriations, and even these categories may change based on the length of the potential shutdown.”

A formal statement from DOT Deputy Press Secretary Susan Hendrick Friday said DOT “continues to support President Obama’s proposed FY2014 budget, and we strongly believe that there is still time for Congress to avert a government shutdown.

“That said, good management requires us to prepare for a potential lapse in funds, which is why we have updated our contingency plans.  As always, safety is our top priority and our plans reflect that commitment, keeping all safety-critical employees on the job, but there is no question that a shutdown will hurt our ability to move forward with much-needed transportation projects and in turn, will hurt the millions of Americans that count on them to get where they need to go faster and more efficiently.”

Official furlough notices were to be issued on October 1 if the funding lapse takes place.

President Barack Obama Friday lectured House Republicans to stop "appeasing the tea party."

The House Saturday rallied around a plan to keep government open but delay the healthcare plan for a year.

"The House will take action that reflects the fundamental fact that Americans don't want a government shutdown and they don't want the train wreck that is Obamacare. Grandstanding from the president, who refuses to even be a part of the process, won't bring Congress any closer to a resolution," said a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner Friday.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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