Following a prolonged budget impasse, the federal government was poised at press time to initiate a partial shutdown midnight on Friday.
Earlier this week, the Senate passed a short-term spending bill to fund the federal government through Feb. 8, but that resolution did not include the $5 billion President Trump has asked for to fund construction of a wall along the country’s southern border. Without the wall funding, the president has threatened to veto the deal.
The House passed its version of the spending bill the next day with the $5 billion funding President Trump demanded.
However, the Senate has failed to approve the modified legislation as of press time. The measure requires at least 60 votes in that chamber and Democrats strongly oppose funding for the border wall.
It is unclear how or if the impasse will be resolved.
While the deal Congress struck would have prevented the shutdown, even it was far from ideal, said Shawn McBurney, the Society of American Florists’ senior director of government relations.
“In an ideal world, lawmakers would have approved the remaining FY2018 spending bills so that business owners within industry who depend on federal activities, such as permitting, applications processing and similar functions can plan for the next year,” he said.
In the floral industry, a government shutdown could delay the processing of work visa permits and applications. A prolonged shutdown also has the potential to affect various aspects of business from transportation to obtaining answers to routine questions from federal agencies.
For now, the industry is in a wait-and-see position, along with the rest of the country, McBurney said.
“Investigations, immigration, delayed approval of spending bills, and a power shift in Washington have all come together to create uncertainty throughout the country,” he explained.
Shawn McBurney is the senior director of government relations of the Society of American Florists