Government Shutdown Could Affect Meetings, Travel Industries

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Unless Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill can strike a compromise by midnight tonight—which isn’t looking particularly likely—the federal government will basically run out of money. While Social Security checks and other benefits will continue to be sent out, many agencies will be forced to halt everything but those services deemed most essential and will furlough more than 800,000 employees. A prolonged shutdown could have negative consequences throughout the economy, and here’s a look at some aspects that may specifically affect meetings and travel:

  • Federal employees won’t be able to attend conferences. A Department of the Interior document answering questions about travel during a shutdown informs workers that “travelers attending conferences…should be directed to return to their official duty station immediately in the event of a government shutdown.” A State Department memo advises employees not to make new arrangements to travel or attend conferences in the event of a shutdown. doi.gov; state.gov
  • Meetings won’t be able to involve visits to national parks, monuments and museums, as the employees who run those sites are placed on leave. hotelnewsnow.com
  • Conference attendees coming from abroad may have trouble getting visas in time. During the government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, tens of thousands of applications from foreigners went unprocessed every day. washingtonpost.com
  • The recommendation that came just last week, urging the Federal Aviation Administration allow the use of certain electronic devices during all phases of commercial flights, could take longer to implement, since the agency will have to delay coming up with a framework to make the rule changes. thehill.com