October 4 - It has been four days since the US Federal Government shut its doors as a result of Congress and Barack Obama failing to agree on a new spending bill, with much of the dispute circling around the President's controversial health bill - dubbed

Under the US Constitution, Congress must pass laws to spend money. If Congress cannot agree on a spending bill, the government does not have the legal right to spend money.

This has resulted in a partial shutdown of government services, and the logistics industry has not been immune to the changes, with shippers dependent on US agencies to clear cargo seeing delays at US ports of entry.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have all faced staff reductions as a result of the shutdown, delaying shipment paperwork and holding up deliveries by several hours. Shippers of food, pharmaceuticals, environmentally sensitive items and medical devices should plan for slower Customs clearance proceedings and delayed shipments.

However, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not encountered similar wholesale staff cutbacks, with only 6,000 of its 58,000 staff furloughed, as its services are deemed essential.

So far, the air cargo supply chain has not reported any clearance delays - a result of CBP and the Transport Security Association's (TSA) high staffing levels, as well as the Air Cargo Advanced Screening Initiative. Moreover, the majority of cargo screenings are performed by airlines and freight forwarders, and the TSA has more of a supervisory role.