October 2, 2013

White House meeting yields no progress on shutdown

Republican leaders still hope to delay or wipe out the new health law, which the president says is an unacceptable reason to shut down the nation's government.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters following a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Obama and congressional leaders met at the White House on the second day of a partial government shutdown.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, walks with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, after speaking to reporters following a meeting with President Barack Obama and the Republican leadership at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Obama and congressional leaders met at the White House on the second day of a partial government shutdown.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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Democrats labeled that a stunt. “We’ve already been working on a plan to open the Memorial — and the entire government — after the GOP caused them to close,” said party spokesman Mo Elleithee. “It’s called a clean” spending bill.

As it turned out, more than 125 World War II veterans from Mississippi and Iowa who were initially kept out of the memorial Tuesday were escorted to the site with the help of members of Congress. Officials made further arrangements to allow veterans groups into the memorial during the shutdown.

A sampling of federal agencies showed how unevenly the shutdown was felt across the government.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Housing and Urban Development listed only six percent of their employees as essential, and therefore permitted to work during the impasse. James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, said about 70 percent of civilian employees in agencies under his control had been sent home.

By contrast, about 86 percent of employees of the Department of Homeland Security remained on the job, and 95 percent at the Veterans Affairs Department.

One furloughed employee, meteorologist Amy Fritz, said, “I want to get back to work.” At a news conference arranged by congressional Democrats, the 38-year-old National Weather Service employee said she has more than $100,000 in student loan debt and is looking at ways to cut her budget.

In an interview with CNBC before meeting with lawmakers, Obama said he would not negotiate with Republicans until the government is reopened and Congress votes to raise the debt limit.

“If we get in the habit where a few folks, an extremist wing of one party, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, are allowed to extort concessions based on a threat (to) undermine the full faith and credit of the United States, then any president who comes after me, not just me, will find themselves unable to govern effectively,” he said.

“The White House said Obama would have to truncate a long-planned trip to Asia, calling off the final two stops in Malaysia and the Philippines.

The shutdown also intruded into the race for governor of Virginia.

Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat, said he supported legislation to guarantee retroactive pay for furloughed federal employees. The Republican contender, Ken Cuccinelli, called on members of Congress to decline their pay as long as the shutdown lasts.

The House sidetracked legislation Tuesday night to reopen some veterans programs, the national parks and a portion of the Washington, D.C., municipal government. All three bills fell short of the two-thirds majority needed when Democrats voted overwhelmingly against this.

Republicans tried again, this time under rules requiring only a simple majority. The parks measure was approved on a vote of 252-173, with 23 Democrats breaking ranks and voting in favor. The vote to reopen NIH was 254-171. The House also voted to allow the Washington, D.C., government to use the taxes it collects to operate programs.

Votes were deferred on more bills, one to assure pay for members of the National Guard and Reserves and another to allow some veterans programs to resume.

The NIH bill was added to the day’s agenda after Democrats had said seriously ill patients would be turned away from the facility’s hospital of last resort, and no new enrollment permitted in experimental treatments.

Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York said the Republican response was a ploy. “Every time they see a bad headline they’re going to bring a bill to the floor and make it go away,” she said.

Some Republicans took obvious pleasure in the rough rollout Tuesday of new health insurance markets created under Obama’s health care law. Widespread online glitches prevented many people from signing up for coverage that begins in January.

Rep. Trey Radel of Florida said a 14-year-old could build a better website “in an afternoon in his basement.”

At issue is the need to pass a temporary funding bill to keep the government open since the start of the new budget year on Tuesday.

Congress has passed more than 100 temporary funding bills since the last shutdown in 1996, almost all of them without controversy. The streak was broken because conservative Republicans have held up the current measure in the longshot hope of derailing or delaying Obamacare, just as the health insurance markets at the heart of the law opened on Tuesday.

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Additional Photos

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As Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., speaks at left, House Democrats rally behind Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, as they tell the Republican majority they want a vote on reopening the government without clamping any restrictions on President Barack Obama’s health care law, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

The Associated Press

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. The Republican-run House has rejected an effort by Democrats to force a quick end to the partial government shutdown. By a 227-197 vote Wednesday, the House rejected a move by Democrats aimed at forcing the House to vote on immediately reopening the government without clamping any restrictions on President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The Associated Press

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A pad lock secures the iron gate of the closed National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. President Barack Obama summoned congressional leaders to the White House on the second day of a partial government shutdown that has furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers and closed military cemeteries as far away as France. Republican leaders welcomed the Wednesday afternoon meeting but questioned whether Democrats were ready to deal.

The Associated Press

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Vicki Maturo, of Culver City, Calif., protests against the government shutdown outside the federal building in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. President Barack Obama summoned congressional leaders to the White House on the second day of a partial government shutdown that has furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers and closed military cemeteries as far away as France.

The Associated Press

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Barricades are posted in front of the closed Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. The political stare-down on Capitol Hill shows no signs of easing, leaving federal government functions _ from informational websites, to national parks, to processing veterans’ claims _ in limbo from coast to coast. Lawmakers in both parties ominously suggested the partial shutdown might last for weeks.

The Associated Press

 


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