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Entries in Shutdown (12)

Wednesday
Aug032011

Obama Urges Congress to End FAA Shutdown

US Government(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama accused lawmakers Wednesday of playing politics with the extension to fund the FAA and urged Congress to resolve the shutdown before the end of the week, saying this is another example of a “self-inflicted wound” on the American economy.

“This is a lose-lose-lose situation that can be easily solved if Congress gets back into town and does its job,” Obama said during a White House Cabinet meeting.

Congress left on vacation this week without passing legislation to fund the FAA, leaving nearly 4,000 FAA employees furloughed and close to 30,000 construction workers out of a job. “The FAA routinely gets its authorities extended through Congress.  It's happened 20 times since 2007.  This time, Congress has decided to play some politics with it,” Obama said.

The president called on Congress to resolve the issue before the end of the week. “Don't put the livelihoods of thousands of people at risk.  Don't put projects at risk.  And don't let a billion dollars, at a time when we're scrambling for every dollar we can, get left on the table because Congress did not act,” Obama said, noting that the House and the Senate could pass an extension through a procedural agreement and “have the fights that they want to have when they get back.”

The president also chastised the airlines for continuing to collect a federal tax on tickets and said the government is losing critical tax revenue.

“The airlines are still collecting these fees because it's priced into their tickets, but they're not turning them over to the federal government and the federal government stands to lose $200 million a week,” he said. “That would be a billion dollars at a time when we're worrying about how we pay for everything from education to Head Start. And we don't anticipate it's going to be easy to get that money back. Even though the airlines are collecting it, they're keeping it.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul142011

Minnesota Lawmakers Reach Tentative Deal to End Shutdown

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images(SAINT PAUL, Minn.) -- Minnesota Republican leaders have tentatively agreed to Governor Mark Dayton’s offer to end the state’s two-week-old government shutdown.  Final approval is up to a special session of the Republican-controlled legislature.
 
The deal closes a $1.4 billion dollar budget difference by delaying payments to schools and borrowing against future revenues from a state tobacco settlement.  
 
As Washington is sure to notice, both sides backed down on key demands.  The Democratic governor ended his call for higher taxes, and Republicans dropped proposals to dramatically cut the state workforce and implement conservative policy changes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul142011

Minnesota Governor Ready to End Shutdown

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images(SAINT PAUL, Minn.) -- Minnesota governor Mark Dayton on Thursday moved to end the state’s two week-old government shutdown by accepting a proposal Republicans first offered last month.

Under the plan, Minnesota would delay school funding and borrow against future revenues to close its $1.4 billion dollar budget shortfall.

In a letter to Republican leaders, the Democratic governor said he would accept the deal only if they dropped demands for a 15 percent cut in the state workforce and other policy changes, including restrictions on abortion and stem cell research: "This proposal bridges the remaining...gap between us without any more drastic cuts in essential services to the people of Minnesota."

Republican leaders have not yet made any formal response to Dayton's offer.  

The possible break in the impasse comes as the shutdown threatened to impact Minnesotans where it hurts: by taking away their beer. This week, state officials told MillerCoors to prepare for removing its products from store shelves and taverns because state employees responsible for licensing were laid off. The giant brewer supplies nearly 40 percent of Minnesota's beer.

Since the shutdown, more than 20,000 state employees have been off the job, resulting in significant cuts in services. A nursing home in the small town of Belview is unable to reopen after a storm damaged its roof because state inspectors are not working.  Twenty-five patients were transferred to other nursing homes.

Prospective new drivers have been unable to get licenses.  Anglers, too, have been unable to renew their fishing permits.

Food banks worry about re-stocking shelves, because state employees who help administer federal food programs have also been laid off.

But a special magistrate, appointed to sift through emergency requests, has ruled in favor of keeping other state services open, including an office that conducts background checks for programs that serve the children and elderly.

The shutdown is also costing Minnesota plenty: state officials estimate they are losing $1.25 million a day in lottery sales, $1 million a week in state park fees, and $50 million a month that state tax auditors collect.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul032011

Minnesota Government Shutdown Puts a Damper on Holiday Plans

Comstock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- While many people are looking for a getaway during the July 4 holiday weekend, campers in Minnesota state parks are instead being told to get lost -- just one of many casualties in the state's budget crisis.

"We're being thrown out," said Tina Johnson, a would-be July Fourth camper who, along with many others, now has to abandon her holiday plans because the state government is shutting down.

Minnesota's Democratic governor and Republican-controlled legislature failed to come to a budget agreement that would fix the state's $5 million budget gap. As a result, more than 25,000 state employees have been temporarily laid off.

Only critical services such as police patrols, prison operations and services to the elderly will remain in operation.

Camper Cole Guion said the timing for the shutdown could not be worse.

"It doesn't make any sense the idea of this being a place for people to come to and have a good time and for the state to shut it down," Guion said. "It is just ridiculous."

The "holiday hit list" is extensive. Not only are parks closed but zoos and the racetrack are shut down as well. Even fishing has been halted as the office that issues mandatory fishing licenses has been closed.

This is not Minnesota's first shutdown. Its last shutdown was in 2005, though that was just a partial shutdown with only 9,000 employees temporarily furloughed. Minnesota becomes the first state to actually shut down much of its government due to a budget crisis and the only state to ever have two shutdowns.

Karen Johnson had planned to spend a week camping with her family. Instead she was ejected from the grounds.

"I think the government has to get its act together and come up with a budget," Johnson said. "It is a matter of not doing their job. I am a nurse. If I don't get my work done in the hospital, I would get fired."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

Senator Pledges to Give Up Salary During Shutdown

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democratic Senator Joe Manchin pledged Thursday to return his salary to the Treasury if the government shuts down this week -- and he wants his fellow members of Congress, the president, and the vice president to follow suit. 

“The bottom line is this: I can’t imagine that the president, vice president or any member of Congress -- Republican or Democrat --thinks they should get paid when the government has shut down,” Manchin wrote in a letter to colleagues Thursday. “Some in Washington will deride this as an empty gesture. To those naysayers, I say that the American people expect more of us. They expect us to lead by example and share their pain until a budget resolution is reached that reflects our values and priorities as a country.”

Republicans aren’t too impressed. The National Republican Senatorial Committee accused Manchin -- who is up for re-election next year -- of “pure political posturing.”

“This is nothing short of pure political posturing by multi-millionaire Joe Manchin to cover up for the fact that he and his fellow Washington Democrats have failed to do their jobs,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

Deal Or No Deal? Shutdown Showdown Comes Down to The Wire  

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With a little more than a day to go to avert a government shutdown, both sides are still at loggerheads on a bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

Negotiators worked through the night and President Obama said a 90-minute Oval Office meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was “productive.”

“I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding,” Obama said, adding, “I remain confident that if we are serious about getting something done, we should be able to complete the deal and get it passed and avert a shutdown.”

Reid said he has “confidence that we can get this done,” but emphasized “we are not there yet.” Boehner, meanwhile, referred to “some honest differences” that continue to prolong the standoff.

“I want to reiterate that there is no agreement on a number and there is no agreement on the policy,” Boehner said Wednesday night. “But there’s an intent on both sides to continue to work together to try to resolve this.”

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos hears that negotiators are still a few billion dollars and several policy riders away from a deal. And in his exclusive interview with Speaker Boehner before Wednesday's White House meeting, the Ohio Republican said he and his GOP counterparts would keep “fighting for the largest cuts that we can.”

“The Democrats controlled the House last year, they controlled the Senate.…And we had a Democrat in the White House. They should have done this budget last year,” Boehner told Stephanopoulos. “Now, we’ve kept the government open while cutting about $10 billion worth of spending.…We’re cleaning up last year’s mess.” 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

Senators Introduce Bill to Ensure Military Gets Paid in Event of Shutdown

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan group of senators is now introducing a bill to make sure that members of the military still get paid even if the government shuts down.

The senators leading the effort are Republicans Kay Bailey Hutchison and Jim Inhofe and Democrat Bob Casey. Also signing on are Republicans Olympia Snowe, Lisa Murkowski, John Hoeven, Susan Collins & Kelly Ayotte. According to the senators, the Ensuring Pay for our Military Act of 2011 would “make available the necessary funds to prevent an interruption in pay for members of the military if there is a funding gap resulting from a government shutdown” and it would “give the Secretary of Defense the discretion to allow those who serve as DOD civilians or contractors in support of our men and women in uniform to continue to be paid as well.”

In a paper statement, Hutchison said, "I am not willing to place the well-being of our military personnel and their families in the balance as we await a budget agreement. Our troops are serving our country, and our country must continue to serve them."

Said Casey, “Military men and women put their lives on the line and sacrifice every day to ensure our security. They should not have to worry about getting paid on time.”

"The last concern our service men and women need to have while serving in harm's way is whether or not they can pay their bills - rent, car payments, and food for their families,” said Inhofe. “This country and this Congress has an obligation to care for our military and their families, just as they care for and protect this nation every day.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

Sen. Schumer: New 'Glimmer' of Hope to Avoid Shutdown

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- New York Senator Chuck Schumer told Good Morning America Wednesday there is new hope to avoid a shutdown, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner completed their latest round of budget talks Tuesday night. But Schumer kept up the pressure on Boehner, trying to drive a wedge between the Speaker and his rank and file.

“The Tea Party just continues to pull Speaker Boehner further back and back and back. They are the people who say they don’t want compromise. They are the people who say they relish a shutdown. And the bottom line is if he can resist them, not give them their way on everything I think we can have an agreement and that is why there is a glimmer of hope," he said.

Following a meeting with Boehner, Reid sounded more optimistic when he took to the Senate floor last night and said “there’s still air in the tire” and “the government is not going to be shutdown – yet.”

And Schumer did seem to suggest that Speaker Boehner’s new demand for $40 billion in cuts might fly if Democrats could determine where the savings come from, and Republicans give up most of the policy “riders” (like defunding Planned Parenthood and Obama’s health care plan) that they’ve been demanding.

So what are the chances of a shutdown this weekend?

“Oh I hope it can be avoided. We are doing everything we can to avoid it. But the Tea Party has to compromise a little bit and Speaker Boehner has to tell them that,” Schumer said.

One more glimmer of good news -- President Obama hasn’t called the negotiators back to the White House, yet.

“[It] shows that there is a view that these talks are making some progress, but I’d still be worried particularly because they keep moving the goal post back,” Schumer said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar292011

Blame Game Underway, But Will Gov't Really Shut Down? 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With negotiations between a divided Congress and the White House on a long-term spending bill creeping along and less than two weeks remaining to reach an agreement on a deal, the blame game is already in full force debating whose fault it would be if the government shuts down.

But just how real is the threat of a government shutdown?

Despite all of the spin, hype and hyperbole, congressional sources admit that a shutdown is unlikely. So far, each time a doomsday deadline approaches both sides have been able to work out a deal on a short-term extension.

But after funding the federal government incrementally once again, congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle -- and even President Obama -- have said that another short-term extension would be “irresponsible,” “inefficient” and “demoralizing.”

With the last short-term spending bill signed into law and the government currently scheduled to run out of money on April 9, Boehner and Reid have been seemingly cautious not to buck their respective political bases, leaving the negotiations at an impasse.

So will Boehner and Reid actually sit on their hands through the final buzzer and watch idly as the government shuts down?

Congressional sources say a deal to keep the doors open could emerge as soon as Friday in order to meet the House’s requirement that bills are on the floor at least 72 hours before a vote and then give the Senate enough time to pass it.

The Constitution stipulates that spending bills must originate from the House of Representatives, but the Senate could take up H.R. 1 again (which, depending on how you look at it, cut $61 billion from FY2011 spending levels or $100 billion compared to the president’s FY2011 budget request) and amend it to whatever House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agree to (with the administration’s blessing, of course). Otherwise the deal could emerge in a new bill from the House Appropriations Committee, like the past two short-term extensions.

Although negotiators have meet as recently as Friday and Monday, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, Charles Schumer, insinuated that by holding out, Boehner is “agonizing over whether to give in to right-wing demands that they abandon any compromise on their extreme cuts.”

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Boehner shot back at Schumer.

“Sen. Schumer is not part of the CR negotiations, and he is making up fairy tales trying to derail serious discussions on funding the government and cutting spending, because he believes his party would benefit from a government shutdown,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. “At this point, the House has passed a bill to fund the government through the end of the year while cutting spending.  The Senate has not – and Sen. Schumer’s inaccurate rants won’t change that.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb212011

Government Shutdown Looming: What Does it Mean to You?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With Democrats and Republicans at a stalemate over how to fund the government, there is a real threat that government agencies could be shut down for the first time in 15 years.  The deadline is just two weeks away, and could affect countless thousands of Americans.

The last time the federal government closed its doors was in 1995, when then-President Bill Clinton and the Republican-majority Congress failed to come to a compromise on the budget -- twice.

The five-day government stoppage in 1995 caused delays in processing of Social Security, Medicare, and veterans' checks.

While the postal service kept going, the shutdown significantly affected other key government services.  Veterans' health and welfare services were caught in confusion.  National museums and 368 national parks closed their doors; nine million visitors were turned away.

Hundreds of thousands of visa and passport applications went unprocessed as some passport agencies shut down while others operated with minimal staff.  The shutdown also threatened to jeopardize a large chunk of programs for low-income Americans, and slowed down services.

New patients were not accepted into clinical research trials at the National Institute of Health, according to a report compiled in September by the Congressional Research Service.  Toxic waste cleanup at hundreds of sites stopped.  Testing and recruitment of certain federal law enforcement officers stopped.

When the government shuts down, it is forbidden by law to accept the services of its employees and to pay them, except those who are considered absolutely essential.  Members of Congress, the president and presidential appointees are exempted from that rule.  So are defense forces.

During the five-day shutdown in November 1995, about 800,000 "non-essential" employees were sent home, even though they were eventually paid retroactively.  The stalemate cost the government an estimated $750 million and dealt a huge political blow to the Republican leadership.

A longer, 21-day partial shutdown -- the longest in history -- followed at the end of that year and ran into 1996.  About 284,000 workers were furloughed.

The government could have a repeat on March 4, if Republicans and Democrats can't find common ground on a continuing resolution to fund the government until October, when the fiscal year ends. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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