The government is up and running again following the passage of a $987-billion continuing resolution (CR) on Oct. 16 that will fund the government through Jan. 15.
On Day 16 of the shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) struck a deal that keeps the government running through Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. As part of the deal, they agreed to name conferees to work on the budget resolution, which has passed both chambers and, although non-binding, serves as a blueprint for priorities for programs that will receive funding and those that might see reductions.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who had led the charge in the Senate to slow progress on the passage of a budget CR without revisions to President Obama’s health-care law, which is unpopular with Republicans, told reporters a few hours before the vote that he would not filibuster or otherwise delay a vote.
Further, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said his chamber would approve the measure swiftly. The bill moved through both chambers and was signed into law by President Obama late in the evening on Oct. 16.
For many construction firms, the 16-day shutdown was problematic but less troublesome than it could have been if the nation had defaulted on the national debt. Stephen Sandherr, CEO at the Associated General Contractors of America, says projects that already have received federal funding continued through the shutdown—the only stalled projects were those that had not yet received federal appropriations.
Nevertheless, “any time you introduce uncertainty in fiscal spending, then you’re creating another obstacle to the construction industry experiencing a recovery,” Sandherr says.
Steve Hall, vice president of government affairs at the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), notes that a number of engineering firms were affected on projects in which the on-site presence of federal employees was necessary. For example, on some Dept. of Defense contracts, "there were some definite impacts."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed its regulatory offices on Oct. 15, shutting down its permitting process for numerous construction projects. According to Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) office, the shutdown delayed 650 pending actions in just one of the Corps’ 38 districts.
However, the Corps opened its offices two days later, on Oct. 17, and does not have an estimate on the total number of permits that were affected, says Doug Garmon, a public information officer at the Corps’ headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, cleanups at 505 Superfund sites in 47 states were delayed during the shutdown, according to Boxer’s office.