State Dept. cancels border-security conference because of ‘limited funding’ amid government shutdown

The Department of State is postponing an international conference on border security and export control “due to the partial US government shutdown,” a spokesperson said in a statement to INSIDER.

“In light of the very limited funding available during the lapse in appropriations, the Department will exercise judicious use of limited, remaining resources,” the spokesman wrote. “Travel, hiring, contracting, public affairs, and other activities will continue to operate in a constrained manner.”

The 16th International Export Control and Border Security Conference, which was scheduled for three days in February in Edinburgh, Scotland, would have included about 270 export and border-security experts from roughly 85 countries.

Topics that were discussed in previous conferences included “challenges and the latest developments in the multilateral nonproliferation regimes,” surface-to-air missiles, smalls arms, and light weapons.

The Export Control and Related Border Security Program, which is under the direction of the State Department, focuses on numerous security systems at the US border and the prevention of weapons proliferation — including the detection and interdiction of “illicit transfers at the border,” according to its website.

Kathryn Insley, the director of the Office of Export Control Cooperation, wrote in a letter dated January 16 that the event was postponed “due to uncertainty associated with” the shutdown, according to CNN, who first reported on the incident.

The letter was reportedly sent to at least 55 US embassies and missions that were assisting with travel plans for the conference’s participants.

The ongoing government shutdown, now on its 32nd day, is the longest government shutdown in US history. President Donald Trump, who is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a barrier on the US-Mexico border, faces opposition from a Democratic-majority House. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has signaled the body will not pass spending for the barrier.

The House has passed legislation to open the government without border-wall funding. Before the shutdown, there were not enough votes in the Senate (it needs 60) to pass a bill with funding for the wall. As of Thursday, the Senate was inching closer to a vote which could end the shutdown, Reuters reported.

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