After declaring“I am proud to shut down the government”, President Donald Trump followedthrough on his boast on December 22nd 2018. And the government hasbeen shut down since, including departments of Transportation, HomelandSecurity, and other agencies that truckers rely on to get the job done.
The President is demanding $5 billion to fund construction of his wall on the southern border, but he is unlikely to get that amount of money from Congress. This means that government agencies will either be inactive or they will be staffed only by a limited amount of “essential” workers.
One example of how the government shutdown can affect truck drivers is through freight clearance. While customs and security agents are among the essential government employees that must continue working, this situation cannot last indefinitely.
If these agencies eventually have to reduce their staff or if selected workers go on strike due to lack of payment, the process of clearing freight through customs and security could slow down considerably. As truck drivers know from detention time, delays can be costly. And these costs can ripple through the entire supply chain.
Another way that truckers could be affected is with cancelled freight. If government projects are shut down, truck drivers delivering for those projects will be on hold. Truckers might receive sudden cancellations coming across their Qualcomms and get stuck at a truck stop somewhere while waiting for a new assignment.
FMCSA and Other Concerns
Fortunately, most truckers’ daily operations should continue because the FMCSA, a government agency, is still operating. But there may be delays on another important issue.
The FMCSA was set to review Hours of Service regulations, which was an optimistic step forward for truck drivers burdened by the ELD mandate. But if the FMCSA gets held up by the shutdown of other departments, such as Transportation, then these beneficial rule changes might also be put on the backburner.
There may be many other unforeseen consequences as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stopped safety inspections on cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles.
It’s unclear how long the government shutdown will continue, but the longer it goes, the more likely it is to affect truck drivers and their families.