Partial Federal Government May Last Into New Year: Impact on Indian Country

Published December 24, 2018

WASHINGTON — The partial government shutdown that began at midnight Saturday is expected to last through the holidays and continue into the new year as the 116th Congress begins its session. At issue is the demand by President Trump for $5.7 billion for a wall at the southern border of the United States that is opposed by the majority of Americans.

The impact of a partial shutdown in Indian Country was outlined on federal agencies’ websites:

The U.S. Department of the Interior – Indian Affairs:

A document posted on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s website in an 11-page document entitled, “Indian Affairs – Shutdown Contingency Plan.”

Under the contingency plan, excepted required services and activities include law enforcement, human services (child protection), wild land fire management, irrigation, and safety of dams.

Excepted functions include providing emergency response activities on tribal and allotted lands, providing critical services that address health and safety of tribes and tribal members and BIA employees, providing immediate response to allegations of child abuse and neglect, providing law enforcement and detention operations on Indian lands under federal jurisdiction, coordinating tribal law enforcement activities, and enforcing federal laws, protecting federal facilities and infrastructure, providing critical services for delivery of water and power to irrigation systems, dams, and communities, and providing transportation infrastructure construction and maintenance on tribal lands.

Indian Health Service (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services): 

Indian Health Service hospitals and clinics will stay open. Read more on IHS website:

  • Indian Health Service (IHS) – IHS would continue to provide direct clinical health care services as well as referrals for contracted services that cannot be provided through IHS clinics.
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) – ATSDR experts will continue to provide a 24/7 response to toxic chemical exposures, hazardous leaks and spills, environmentally-related poisonings, natural disasters and terrorist acts.   ATSDR would continue activities supported with funding not affected by the lapse in appropriations, such as: the Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Contamination in Drinking Water study and related activities, certain asbestos exposure-related activities in Libby, Montana, as well as activities funded with supplemental funding for the 2017 hurricane season response.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – Office of Native American Programs (ONAP):

Posted on the HUD’s Office of Native American Programs website on Friday:

“As you may be aware, the Federal Government may experience a partial shutdown starting tonight (Friday, December 21, 2018) at midnight. If this happens, Department of Housing and Urban Development employees would be furloughed and unable to process Section 184, Section 184A, and Title VI loans. We will continue to monitor the situation and let you know as soon as possible when we are able to process loans again.

We apologize for the inconvenience this will cause to our valuable lending partners and borrowers.”

National Museum of the American Indian:

A scrolling message on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian website says the museums and research centers will remain open through January 1, 2019, with the exception of Christmas when the facilities are closed in recognition of the holiday.

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