Business Travel Group: Effects of Homeland Security Shutdown Could Be Dire

An immigration battle that threatens to hold up funding for the Department of Homeland Security could cause major ripple effects for business travelers, the Global Business Travel Association warns.

When it comes to business travel, the costs of failing to fund the Department of Homeland Security are high, according to the Global Business Travel Association.

GBTA warns that if a DHS funding bill fails to pass, the industries the association represents could be in a world of hurt. The bill would affect funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and lead to the furlough of up to 30,000 DHS employees—15 percent of the agency’s staff.

While only nonessential staff would be furloughed, the rest would be required to work without pay during a partial shutdown. The resulting risk to the economy is high, GBTA warns.

“When the DHS goes unfunded, in the case of TSA when it comes to business travelers, it means longer lines, disruption, and a risk of business travelers canceling trips,” GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick told the travel publication Skift. “These cancelled trips don’t come back like cancelled vacations do, and they’re lost revenue and productivity.”

The sticking point for lawmakers has little to do with travel and everything to do with another topic in DHS’s wheelhouse: immigration. The House has passed a funding bill that includes provisions that would prevent implementation of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The Senate version of the bill has been blocked by Democrats who want a funding bill free of the immigration provisions.

“The House has acted to de-fund the department and to stop the president’s overreach when it comes to immigration and his executive orders,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently said, according to Reuters. ” And the Congress just can’t sit by and let the president defy the Constitution and defy … his oath of office.”

If DHS partially shuts down after its funding runs out February 28, international travelers—who have to go through U.S. Customs when entering the U.S.—may feel the brunt of the pain. A recent Washington Post analysis of the potential furlough risk shows that, while just 7 percent of TSA employees could face furloughs, around 12 percent of U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees and 20 percent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees are likely to be told not to report to work.

(iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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