Pharos-Tribune

Breaking news

October 1, 2013

Federal government shuts down

Shutdown orders issued as Congress misses deadline

WASHINGTON — For the first time in nearly two decades, the federal government staggered into a partial shutdown early Tuesday morning after congressional Republicans stubbornly demanded changes in the nation's health care law as the price for essential federal funding and President Barack Obama and Democrats adamantly refused.

As Congress gridlocked, Obama said a "shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away," with hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed and veterans' centers, national parks, most of the space agency and other government operations shuttered.

He laid the blame at the feet of House Republicans, whom he accused of seeking to tie government funding to ideological demands, "all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded a short while later on the House floor. "The American people don't want a shutdown and neither do I," he said. Yet, he added, the new health care law "is having a devastating impact. ... Something has to be done."

The stock market dropped on fears that political deadlock between the White House and a tea party-heavy Republican Party would prevail, though analysts suggested significant damage to the national economy was unlikely unless a shutdown lasted more than a few days.

A few minutes before midnight, Budget Director Sylvia Burwell issued a directive to federal agencies to "execute plans for an orderly shutdown." While an estimated 800,000 federal workers faced furloughs, some critical parts of the government — from the military to air traffic controllers — would remain open.

Among the immediate casualties was tourism at the Capitol. The visitor center announced it would be closed "due to a lapse in government funding," and all tours of Congress suspended.

The interruption in federal funding sent divided government into territory unexplored in nearly two decades. Then, Republicans suffered significant political damage and President Bill Clinton benefitted from twin shutdowns. Now, some Republicans said they feared a similar outcome.

If nothing else, some Republicans also conceded it was impossible to use funding legislation to squeeze concessions from the White House on health care. "We can't win," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

"We're on the brink," Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said shortly after midday as the two houses maneuvered for political advantage and the Obama administration's budget office prepared for a partial shutdown, the first since the winter of 1995-96.

On a long day and night in the Capitol, the Senate torpedoed one GOP attempt to tie government financing to changes in "Obamacare." House Republicans countered with a second despite unmistakable signs their unity was fraying — and Senate Democrats promptly rejected it, as well.

With Republicans defiant, the House voted 228-199 to re-pass their earlier measure and simultaneously request negotiations with the Senate on a compromise. Boehner later sidestepped when asked if he would permit a vote on a standalone spending bill that would allow the government to reopen.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would reject the House move in the morning. "That closes government. They want to close government," he said of House Republicans.

As lawmakers squabbled, Obama spoke bluntly about House Republicans. "You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you're supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there's a law there that you don't like," he said. Speaking of the health care law that undergoes a major expansion Tuesday, he said emphatically: "That funding is already in place. You can't shut it down."

Some Republicans balked, moderates and conservatives alike.

Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia said it felt as if Republicans were retreating, given their diminishing demands, and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said there was not unanimity when the rank and file met to discuss a next move.

Yet for the first time since the showdown began more than a week ago, there was also public dissent from the Republican strategy that has been carried out at the insistence of lawmakers working in tandem with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., said he was willing to vote for stand-alone legislation that would keep the government running and contained no health care-related provisions. "I would be supportive of it, and I believe the votes are there in the House to pass it at that point," the fifth-term congressman said.

Other Republicans sought to blame Democrats for any shutdown, but Dent conceded that Republicans would bear the blame, whether or not they deserved it.

Hours before the possible shutdown, the Senate voted 54-46 to reject the House-passed measure that would have kept the government open but would have delayed implementation of the health care law for a year and permanently repealed a medical device tax that helps finance it.

In response, House Republicans sought different concessions in exchange for allowing the government to remain open. They called for a one-year delay in a requirement in the health care law for individuals to purchase coverage. The same measure also would require members of Congress and their aides as well as the president, the vice president and the administration's political appointees to bear the full cost of their own coverage by barring the government from making the customary employer contribution.

"This is a matter of funding the government and providing fairness to the American people," said Boehner. "Why wouldn't members of Congress vote for it?"

The vote was 228-201, with a dozen Republicans opposed and nine Democrats in favor.

Unimpressed, Senate Democrats swatted it on a 54-46 party line vote about an hour later.

Obama followed up his public remarks with phone calls to Boehner and the three other top leaders of Congress, telling Republicans he would continue to oppose attempts to delay or cut federal financing of the health care law.

The impact of a shutdown would be felt unevenly.

Many low- to moderate-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays, and Obama said veterans' centers would be closed.

About 800,000 federal workers, many already reeling from the effect of automatic budget cuts, would be ordered to report to work Tuesday for about four hours — but only to carry out shutdown-related chores such as changing office voicemail messages and completing time cards.

Some critical services such as patrolling the borders and inspecting meat would continue. Social Security benefits would be sent, and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor would continue to pay doctors and hospitals.

U.S. troops were shielded from any damage to their wallets when Obama signed legislation assuring the military would be paid in the in the event of a shutdown.

That had no impact on those who labor at other agencies.

"I know some other employees, if you don't have money saved, it's going to be difficult," said Thelma Manley, who has spent seven years as a staff assistant with the Internal Revenue Service during a 30-year career in government.

As for herself, she said, "I'm a Christian, I trust in God wholeheartedly and my needs will be met." She added, "I do have savings, so I can go to the reserve, so to speak."

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Breaking news
  • Inmate sues for religious services at Miami County prison BUNKER HILL – A Native American inmate is suing the Miami Correctional Facility for violating his constitutional religious freedom after the prison last year terminated Native American worship services. Daniel Littlepage says in a class action lawsui

    April 22, 2014

  • Men: Requests by missing girl's parents too broad INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two men who were with a 20-year-old Indiana University student before she vanished in 2011 say her parents' efforts to obtain evidence against them is a "fishing expedition." Jason Rosenbaum and Corey Rossman say in court documen

    April 22, 2014

  • Commissioner: Wind turbine blades pose no danger TIPTON (AP) — A central Indiana commissioner says a wind farm where two blades have broken off of towering wind turbines this year poses no "imminent danger" to nearby residents. Residents near the Wildcat Wind Farm brought their safety concerns abo

    April 22, 2014

  • Indiana: Security bars Native American ceremonies INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State attorneys say security concerns keep Indiana from allowing Native American offenders in a prison from practicing their religion without outside supervision. The Indiana attorney general's office said in a statement issued M

    April 22, 2014

  • Charges in works against officer before shooting INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A prosecutor says his office was preparing to file stalking charges against an Indianapolis police officer who authorities say fatally shot his ex-wife and then killed himself. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry tells WTHR-TV t

    April 22, 2014

  • Indianapolis Museum of Art sponsors nature drawing INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Museum of Art is sponsoring an online drawing competition for digital pieces inspired by the institution's collections and gardens. First, guests explore the museum's galleries and one of its nature parks, which

    April 22, 2014

  • Missing Michigan kayaker's body found in S. Ind. COLUMBUS (AP) — Authorities say the body of a missing kayaker has been found in the Flat Rock River in Columbus more than two weeks after he disappeared. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the body of 27-year-old Enrique Quinonez of Ka

    April 22, 2014

  • shelly maness Woman arrested in meth lab find MACY — A narcotics investigation led to the recent arrest of a Fulton County woman on several drug charges. Shelly Maness, 35, Macy, was arrested on two felony counts of dealing in methamphetamine, possession of meth, possession of an illegal drug la

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Native American sues Indiana prison over religion INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Native American is asking a federal judge to order the state to allow him and others to exercise their religion in an Indiana prison. Daniel Littlepage says in a class action lawsuit that Native Americans' worship ceremonies we

    April 21, 2014

  • WWII ship group wants better Evansville dock EVANSVILLE (AP) — The group that oversees a restored World War II ship wants a more visible location on the Ohio River as a condition for keeping the floating museum docked in Evansville. The LST-325 board is considering a proposal from Peoria, Ill.

    April 21, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.