Congress Nears First Shutdown Deadline

Issue Date: February 27, 2024

As Congress nears its first of two deadlines to avert a partial government shutdown on Friday, March 1, lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement on a compromise bill to fund federal agencies and programs.  The 118th Congress has already passed three short-term Continuing Resolutions (“CRs”) to keep operations afloat, with the most recent one passing on January 18, 2024.  That CR funded certain agencies through March 1, and others through March 8, and unless Congress passes another short-term stop-gap bill, or, ideally, a long-term one, operations for those agencies will be partially shutdown.  Essential services, such as the post office, will continue to run. 

The March 1 deadline is for the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Energy.  These include many agencies and programs that are important to REALTOR® business and their clients:  

  • Department of Agriculture (USDA): If shut down, the USDA’s rural programs will be paused until funding resumes, including rural housing Direct Loans or Guaranteed Loans, and scheduled closings of Direct Loans will not occur. 
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD): In the event of a government shutdown, nearly all of HUD’s fair housing activities will cease.  Programs such as public housing operating subsidies, housing choice vouchers, and housing assistance contracts may run out of money, and the processing or closing of loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration may be delayed. 
  • Veterans Affairs (VA): The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guarantee Service will remain operations if the government shuts down but with limited staff so delays should be expected. 

The second deadline of March 8 impacts other agencies including the departments of Defense, State, and Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service.  The effects of these agencies shutting down include:

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Under the EPA’s shutdown plan, most employees will be furloughed, impacting a range of regulatory programs and compliance activities including wetlands determinations under the 404 program and lead-based pain disclosure enforcements. 
  • H-2B Visas: Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will cease operations if the government shuts down, which will stop the processing of H-2B visas and related applications/certifications.  Deadlines related to DOL applications and procedures are typically modified if a shutdown results in delays. 
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Essential IRS functions will continue, and electronic refunds should be processed as if the agency were fully operational – if there are no errors on the tax return.  Hard copy tax filers should expect a delay in receiving their refund.  The April 15 filing deadline remains in place regardless of whether the government is shut down. 
  • National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): During a lapse of authority, the NFIP may not sell new or renew existing flood insurance policies.  Existing policies will remain in effect until their expiration date, and claims will continue to be paid until funds run out.  NFIP policies may be assigned from seller to buyer during a lapse, and most lending regulators have issued guidance providing flexibility.  Private market flood insurance is also an option.  For more information, please see NAR’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on NFIP authorizations
  • Small Business Administration (SBA): If shut down, the SBA would stop processing new business loans for small businesses, including for the 7(a) and CDC 504 loan applications.  Previously approved CDC 504 Loans will continue to close and limited loan servicing and liquidation activities will occur.  Disaster Loans will be issued if needed and the agency will continue to process Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness applications. 

Additionally, during a shutdown delays in the publication of proposed and final rules from federal agencies are expected. 

The Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – are not reliant on appropriated funds, and thus are expected to continue normal operations in the event of a shutdown.  Similarly the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program is funded and authorized through September 30, 2027 and will not be directly impacted by a shutdown, although the shutting down of other federal agencies such as the State Department may have an indirect effect on application processing times. 

NAR continues to urge Congress to pass a long-term funding bill to keep government operations running smoothly and to avoid disruption to major programs such as the NFIP and FHA loans, which provide critical assistance to many homebuyers.  Please visit the NAR Shutdown Memo page for more information on the impact of a government shutdown on REALTORS®.


Erin Stackley,, 202-383-1150