Government and Policy Update

Government Affairs Update

This is the monthly edition of our ASCE Philadelphia Chapter's Government Relations Report.

Federal Update - As of Tuesday Jan 22, the Government Shutdown has entered its 32nd day, the longest in history, and impacting our engineering community in the following ways:

  • State DOTs not authorizing spending due to uncertain federal funding ($30 billion in federal aid highway and $1.5 billion in BUILD grants on hold). Oklahoma and New Mexico DOTs delayed project lettings.
  • EPA – staff on furlough or mandatory unpaid work; Superfund cleanups on hold.
  • Federal Contractors – many federal contracts on hold, and major contractors big and small are reallocating staff to non-federal work and preparing for potential layoffs.
  • Transit agencies – starting service reductions, delaying investments, using reserve funds.
  • National Park Service - some national parks shut down, many open but unstaffed by park rangers; accumulating trash and lack of emergency services.
  • HUD - post-disaster aid on hold due to inability to issue guidance on grant applications due to staff furloughs.
  • FAA - air traffic controllers back on duty (without pay) after judge’s ruling. Some airports still seeing delays.
  • TSA - security agent absenteeism reaching new highs.
  • Interior Dept. - bringing back furloughed employees (without pay) to manage oil and gas leases in Gulf of Mexico.
  • Coast Guard - working without pay - first time in history a US Armed Force branch has gone unpaid due to a shutdown.

Several departments were not affected, as they got fully funded in November, before the shutdown: Dept. of Defense construction, Dept. of Veterans Affairs major and minor health-care facilities construction, Army Corps of Engineers civil-works construction, and Dept. of Energy defense environmental cleanups.

The US House of Representatives is considering a "minibus bill" to partially reopen government (HR 266 and HR 267), while the Senate was considering its own bill. None appear to have sufficient support in each chamber for passage, or are opposed by the threat of a presidential veto.

ASCE will continue to monitor activity at the state and federal level that might impact our profession, the projects we work on, and the communities where we live. Please let us know which topics we should consider for next month's meeting, by sending an email to