How the Partial Government Shutdown is Affecting Federal Consumer Protection Agencies

Funding for a portion of the federal government expired on December 21, 2018, beginning a partial federal government shutdown. As the shutdown continues into its fourth week, businesses and consumers alike are feeling the effects in a big way. Here’s how services are being impacted at three key regulatory agencies.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

The partial government shutdown has had no direct impact on the operations of the CFPB because the agency is funded through the appropriations process.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The following Federal Trade Commission services are NOT available during the shutdown:

  • National Do Not Call Registry (For consumers)
  • National Do Not Call Registry (For telemarketers)
  • Consumer Sentinel Network (For law enforcement)
  • Complaint Assistant (For filing consumer complaints)
  • Identitytheft.gov (For consumers reporting ID theft)
  • Econsumer.gov (For consumers reporting international complaints)

Additionally:

  • Public comments can be submitted, but the FTC will take no action on these comments until the government reopens.
  • Individuals can submit documents to be filed, but the FTC will take no action until the government reopens.
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests can be submitted, but they will not be processed until the government reopens.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

While the FCC managed to hang on longer than some of the other agencies affected, the Commission suspended operations starting mid-day on January 3, 2019.

During the suspension, some of the FCC’s filing databases remain available, but FCC staff is not working and will not be processing applications during the shutdown. According to an FCC Public Notice regarding Commission operations during the shutdown, no support will be provided for the Commission’s website, including the databases that remain available.

There is no clear end in sight for the partial federal government shutdown. The House of Representatives plans to consider four smaller spending bills to reopen parts of the government. Funding for the FCC and FTC is included in the Financial Services appropriation bill, which is likely to be the first considered. Until the shutdown ends or the FCC is funded, the Commission must continue to operate in a very limited capacity.