Kicking deadlines down the road over government shutdowns is much like those punt kicks in the NFL playoffs.  They don’t generally win the game, but the skill involved is appreciated.

Without another short-term deal; a partial federal government shutdown will commence at 12:01 a.m. Saturday for some government agencies. Government shutdowns are usually short or postponed to some time down the road.

On Thursday, the punt kicker of the hour looked like House Speaker Mike Johnson, who was floating a deal to push the shutdown deadline to March 8 for some government agencies and March 22 for others.

Only money appropriated by Congress can be spent, and when new funding has not been approved, government agencies have to turn out the lights.

The Saturday shutdowns would involve about 20 percent of the government, including the USDA. The department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel will continue to report to establishments requiring the inspection of the nation’s meat, poultry, eggs, and catfish.

The USDA provides inspections at nearly 10,000 locations throughout the country.

According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), “Most USDA employees will be placed on furlough because their position is not designated as “excepted” or “exempt.” If your position is not designated as “excepted” or “exempt,” then you will be furloughed. Employees placed on furlough may not perform any work except “minimal activities necessary to execute an orderly shutdown.”

Supervisors are charged with informing USDA employees of their “furlough status.”

USDA programs with contingency funds — like the Supplemental Nutrition  Assistance Program or SNAP — will run until the money is gone

Without another kick down the road, the other 80 percent of the government would cease on March 9 at 12:01 a.m.

The FDA’s food safety programs are included in the second group as is its parent agency the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department.

The Speaker’s punt is intended to leave enough time for individual spending bills to be worked out for each group of government programs. There are 12 annual spending bills for the annual budget to come together.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, also expressed optimism after Congressional leaders met at the White House earlier in the week. He said “good progress” was made on the agreement to avoid the March 2 government shutdown.

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