Environment & Energy Report

Trump’s Shifting Shutdown Tests Obscure Law, Invites Challenges

Jan. 11, 2019, 2:34 PM

More than a century ago, lawmakers grew so fed up with federal agencies spending money they didn’t have that Congress passed a law to rein them in.

Now, legal experts say President Donald Trump may be violating that 149-year-old statute by keeping agencies running despite the budget impasse that has cut off funding for roughly a quarter of the federal government.

Demonstrators hold a "#Stoptheshutdown” sign during a rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The administration’s decision to continue some government functions could even bolster court challenges of policy decisions made by supposedly shuttered agencies.

Environmentalists, for example, are researching whether the shutdown could invalidate some drilling permits issued during the lapse...

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