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Government Shut Down Is Hurting The Transportation Industry


October 11 2013 - On Friday the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation released a report titled, “Impacts of the 2013 Government Shutdown” a snapshot of the impacts of the government shutdown to the public and the U.S. economy. 

The report points out that the shutdown has highlighted the leading role of federal government services to the safety and economic security to our nation, and the critical importance of federal investments in research and development that have long helped spur innovation in the U.S. 

Almost two weeks after the shutdown, it is painfully apparent how the massive gap in important services that our government regularly provides is hurting the economy and businesses, and threatening the safety of families across the county. The Chairman's report takes a close look at several agencies that his Committee oversees and provides specific details on programs that have come to a halt, and the implications of the lapse.

For example, according the Chairman's report with the holiday season just weeks away, consumers should be aware that the safety of children’s toys may not be guaranteed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). All CPSC port inspectors in the field have been furloughed, preventing the CPSC from screening products at ports of entry. CPSC port investigators annually screen thousands of product shipments and prevent millions of potentially dangerous product units from reaching store shelves including children’s products containing excessive lead content and sleepwear that violates flammability standards.

The travelling public will have to wait longer for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to finish important safety and modernization updates. The FAA has halted the development, operational testing, and evaluation of technologies and safety standards for NextGen the agency’s program to modernize the air traffic control system and make the National Airspace System safer and more efficient. 

Services that are the lifeblood to small businesses are on hold, including those performed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and they are having a serious impact on the economic livelihood of independent fishermen. The NMFS determines fishing quotas and permit approvals that are pre-requisites for the beginning of fishing seasons across the country. Furloughs of NMFS biologists who perform these functions threaten to delay and truncate the lucrative king crab fisheries season in Alaska and Washington. The season was set to start on October 15 and typically lasts between one to two months.



Investigations regularly performed by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are not occurring. When federal investigators are unable to examine transportation accidents, they are prevented from compiling information about mistakes that can contribute to making transportation systems safer. Moreover, the agencies have no way of completing routine investigations of crashes, including inspecting the recent Tesla Model S that experienced a battery fire on October 1. 

Rockefeller noted that further delays in reopening the government will only do more harm to our fragile economy, and continue to jeopardize the safety of our communities and families. Since the shutdown started, the Chairman has been calling for Speaker Boehner to bring a clean CR to the floor. 

On Wednesday the House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), H.J. Res. 90, as part of an attempt to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2014 in a piecemeal fashion. Rockefeller said “I agree that the FAA should be funded immediately, along with all of our other agencies.  The Senate passed a clean continuing resolution to do this one that a majority of the House supports and I believe the House should vote on it today so we can resume the critically important work of our entire federal government.” 

The U.S. Travel Association released a new analysis that estimates the partial government shutdown costs the U.S. $152 million a day in economic output due to lost travel-related activity, affecting as many as 450,000 American workers directly or indirectly supported by the travel industry. 

“The government shutdown is throttling America’s travel sector, which, until now, has been one of the principal drivers of U.S. economic recovery,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. “Every day the government is shut down is another $152 million down the drain and another day of financial insecurity for as many as 450,000 U.S. workers whose livelihoods are supported by travel.” 

Travel is America’s No.1 services export, and the travel industry has added jobs faster than the rest of the economy since the U.S. economic recovery began in 2010. U.S. Travel estimated that the direct, indirect and induced impact of lost travel-related activity due to the partial government shutdown costs the U.S. $152 million a day in economic output. The combined effects of temporary layoffs, reduced wages and fewer hours worked as a result of the shutdown affects as many as 450,000 U.S. workers who are directly or indirectly supported by America’s travel economy. 

The House Democrats are trying to push through a ‘Discharge Petition’ to Force Vote, End Shutdown. A "discharge petition" will force an up or down vote on a clean continuing resolution consistent with the funding levels already passed by the Senate and does not require any action by Republican leadership. A combination of all 200 House Democrats and at least 18 Republicans need to sign the petition to force a vote. If successful, the move could have the federal government up and running by early as next week. House members were not able to file the petition until Saturday, October 12, seven legislative days from the introduction of the resolution. Over the last 30 years, 7 out of 7 "discharge petitions" have succeeded in bringing measures to the House floor for a vote.
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