As Shutdown Drags on, Agencies Devoted to Consumer and Worker Health and Safety Unfunded and Deprioritized
In Washington, D.C., and across the nation, furloughs forced by the partial government shutdown have hit agencies with a mission to protect consumers and workers particularly hard.
The shutdown, which is in its 19th day and currently the second-longest in US history, was triggered by President Donald Trump’s insistence that the budget include $5.7 billion for a wall across the U.S. southern border. The shutdown is already impeding vital consumer and worker protection priorities.
If the shutdown is allowed to persist, the cessation of these essential consumer and worker protections threatens significant public harms, as corporate violators go unpunished and food and product safety inspections are delayed and decreased.
The importance of these functions makes even slight capacity reductions a serious cause for concern, and it is noteworthy that the majority of federal workers at unfunded agencies whose responsibilities are considered essential are required to keep working without pay.
Table: Eleven federal consumer and worker protection agencies affected by the shutdown:
|Agency||Total Staff||Furloughed Staff||% Furloughed|
|Consumer Product Safety Commission||550||530||96%|
|Equal Employment Opportunity Commission||2,078||1,975||95%|
|Environmental Protection Agency||13,972||13,160||94%|
|Securities and Exchange Commission||4,436||4,151||94%|
|Commodity Futures Trading Commission||673||591||88%|
|Federal Communications Commission||1,442||1,197||83%|
|Federal Trade Commission||1,124||862||77%|
|National Highway Traffic Safety Administration||584||331||57%|
|Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration||563||285||51%|
|Food and Drug Administration||17,937||8,830||49%|
|Federal Aviation Administration||44,929||17,791||40%|
Source: Agency shutdown memos submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget.
For information about the specific impacts due to furloughs brought on by the shutdown at 11 federal consumer and worker protection agencies, read on. More