State Department issues guidance for potential shutdown

State Department issues guidance for potential shutdown
© Getty Images

The State Department will continue to issue passports and provide other consular services in the event of a government shutdown, the agency said Friday as lawmakers faced a deadline to pass a spending measure.

In a memo sent to department employees, William Todd, the agency's acting director of human resources, said that consular services will be "100% operational" as long as there remains enough fee revenue available.

Passport agencies located in federal buildings affected by a lapse in funding, however, may be closed down, he wrote.


"The Department will continue as many normal operations as possible," Todd wrote. "Operating status and available funding will need to be monitored continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations must be continued."

If the government shuts down, the State Department will become minimally staffed, the guidance says, and excepted employees — those who must continue working in the event of a shutdown — should cease communications with nonessential employees. 

According to the memo, excepted employees are performing work "necessary for emergencies involving 'the safety of human life or the protection of property,' and those necessary for activities essential to national security, including the conduct of foreign affairs essential to national security."

Most Americans only come into contact with the State Department when they are applying for or renewing a passport, or requesting some other type of consular assistance.

Because passport and consular services are funded by fees, they essentially pay for themselves and don't rely solely on funding allocated by Congress. Consular services also remained available the last time a government shutdown occurred in 2013.

Lawmakers have until midnight on Friday to pass a spending measure or else the government will run out of money and shut down. The House passed such a measure on Thursday, but its fate in the Senate remains uncertain.