U.S. Embassy in Colombia to Continue Providing Essential Services During Shutdown, Including Passport, Visa Issuance
While the U.S. Embassy in Colombia “will be affected” by the government shutdown that began at midnight on Friday in Washington, the Bogotá office said that it will continue providing “essential services” despite the spending freeze that will force many federal agencies to close until an appropriations bill can be be passed by the U.S. Congress.
“Due to the lapse in appropriations of the U.S. government, many regular Embassy functions will be affected,” stated the embassy on Twitter. “U.S. citizen services, such as passports, and visa services will continue.”
Although it did not provide a detailed list of what classifies as a “U.S. citizen service,” the U.S. citizen services section of the embassy’s website lists emergency assistance resources for crime victims, people who have been arrested, or those in need of emergency financial services. Support in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen and passport services are also included on the website along with “child and family matters” and various other resources
In addition to the embassy in Bogotá, the United States also maintains an “American Citizen Services office” at the U.S. Consular Agency in Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast, which operates by appointment only and is slated to remain open during the shutdown.
It is also unclear how many, if any, workers would be furloughed at the embassy in Bogotá, which is one of the largest U.S. embassies in the entire world.
While the U.S. Congress continued to negotiate throughout the weekend on an appropriations bill that would authorize the government to recommence spending money, no solution has yet been reached to end the impasse. The Republican Party controls the White House and both houses of the legislative branch, but it has been unable to get the votes necessary to pass even another temporary funding extension bill that would run through February 8.
As of late Sunday night, the Senate had scheduled a vote for Monday at noon on another attempt to finalize a temporary appropriations bill that would allow all of the government to reopen while lawmakers debated the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy and border security, the key issues in the stalemate.
The U.S. Embassy in Bogotá is a part of the U.S. State Department, which issued a memo on Friday before the shutdown began officially noting that it would be scaling down its operations and furloughing workers classified as non-essential. Passports will continue to be issued globally, among other key services, as long as funding allows, although document-issuing offices located in federal buildings that are closed during the shutdown would not be open, stated the department.
“Departmental entities will continue to operate until their respective balances are insufficient to continue,” wrote William Todd, acting general director for the State Department. “While many appropriated funds expire after one year, the Department has some accounts that are 2-year funds or no-year funds.”
This article has been updated to reflect newly learned information about the how the shutdown will affect the embassy.
Photo: U.S. Embassy in Bogotá. (Credit: U.S. Department of State)