FCC Will Postpone October Deadlines if Shutdown Occurs

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By Lydia Beyoud

Sept. 25 — The Federal Communications Commission will issue a public notice postponing certain October deadlines in the event that Congress doesn't clear a stop-gap funding resolution by Sept. 30, an agency spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA.

Just over 90 percent of FCC employees will be furloughed if the government shuts down on Oct. 1, the agency said in a planning document released Sept. 25. However, the agency's five commissioners, 120 employees working on incentive auction issues—whose positions aren't funded through annual appropriations—and a handful of essential personnel will remain on the clock, according to the release.

Nearly all FCC activities will immediately cease if a shutdown occurs, including licensing services, enforcement activities, radio spectrum management and equipment authorizations, the FCC said.

As many as 13 employees will be retained to protect life and property of FCC operations, while as many as two employees will stay on to conduct interference detection, the FCC said. A similar plan was executed during the 2013 government shutdown, the spokeswoman said.

Boehner's Departure

Yet the likelihood of a shutdown decreased when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his plan to resign from Congress at the end of October. Congress has been embroiled in a bitter fight over whether to pass a stopgap funding resolution with or without a provision to defund Planned Parenthood.

“I expect next week we'll pass a clean CR” without a prohibition on Planned Parenthood funding, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters today, adding it would most likely be the Senate version of the funding bill. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also said he expected the House to pass a clean funding bill.

Though a shutdown now appears unlikely, a continuing resolution is only expected to kick the fight on 2016 budget appropriations down the road to December, with the potential for another shutdown at the end of the year. If that occurs, the FCC is likely to reissue its shutdown contingency plan.

Boehner had faced a choice of keeping the Planned Parenthood provision in the CR at the risk of shutting down the government or defying his party's hard-line members and asking Democrats to help pass a clean bill.

Bloomberg Philanthropies provides financial support for Planned Parenthood.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) would appear to have the early inside track on succeeding Boehner. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was uninterested in the job and supported McCarthy. Walden also said he assumed McCarthy was the likely successor to Boehner.

With assistance from Jonathan Nicholson

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Beyoud in Washington at lbeyoud@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine in Washington at kperine@bna.com

Text of the FCC's shutdown plan is at http://src.bna.com/n4.