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The state's task force examining victim privacy and public information met Wednesday for a marathon session to consider issues at stake in restricting Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act. "Privacy now is so fleeting and so easily violated," testified Morgan Rueckert, the attorney for 22 Newtown families. One brief exchange captured on video put its finger on the pulse of the debate. That and more below in The Wheelhouse Digest.

The Associated Press projects that Newark Mayor Cory Booker will win a special election for the New Jersey Senate seat left vacant after the death of Frank Lautenberg.

With 55 percent of the precincts counted, Booker, a Democrat, has a commanding 11-point lead over Steven Lonegan.

Booker will succeed Gov. Chris Christie's interim appointee, Republican Jeff Chiesa, and will have to run again in 2014 for a full six-year term.

The AP adds:

Bringing to an end an episode that once again exposed Washington gridlock at its worst, the House approved a Senate deal that will end a 16-day federal government shutdown and avert the first government default in U.S. history.

The 285-144 vote came at the eleventh hour, after weeks of partisan bickering and a very public airing of deep divisions within the Republican party. President Obama signed the bill into law after midnight Thursday.

The White House is insisting, publicly at least, that nobody emerged victorious from the government shutdown/debt crisis debacle.

"There are no winners here," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday after Senate leaders announced they had a deal to end the budget impasse.

"And nobody's who's sent here to Washington by the American people can call themselves a winner," Carney said, "if the American people have paid a price for what's happened."

Well, yes and no.

Update at 10:18 p.m.: House Approves Bill:

The crisis is over. With about two hours before the country reached the debt ceiling, the House has approved the bill and it is now it's way to the White House. We've posted separately on that development and we are putting this live blog to bed.

Our Original Post Continues:

In the course of any given month, the government collects billions of dollars in taxes, spends billions more, and borrows money to cover the difference between what it collects and what it spends.

If Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling soon, the government won't be able to borrow money to cover the difference anymore and won't be able to pay all of its bills.

Pete Souza / White House

This shutdown is getting old. Federal workers aren’t getting paid, and that means lots of people right here in Connecticut are affected directly - and a lot more are having problems, too.

house.gov

Lawmakers from Connecticut have joined more than 180 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to sign a special petition to reopen the federal government.

President Obama hosted the Senate's leading Democrats at the White House for more than an hour Saturday afternoon, in a session that came the same day that Majority Leader Harry Reid met with Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

No details were available about the Democrats' discussion, which is one of several lines of communication that are aimed at reaching consensus on a budget deal. Earlier Saturday, House Speaker John Boehner said negotiations with the White House were over, after the president rejected the GOP's most recent plan.

Mark Pazniokas / CT Mirror

Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the brutal 2007 home invasion in Cheshire, has spoken with state Republican officials about a run for public office.

An anonymous Republican official told the Associated Press that Petit is considering a run for Congress. He has weighed in on public policy before, campaigning against the repeal of the death penalty in Connecticut.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged lawmakers on Thursday to raise the government's borrowing limit or face the prospect of causing lasting damage to the U.S. economy.

The severely backlogged benefits office of the federal VA is about to slow down again. That's because the VA announced its furloughing nearly 10,000 VBA workers including its IT department. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal  issued a statement today in response to the news. He said many of the employees are veterans themselves.

In a press conference that lasted more than an hour, President Obama said he was willing to talk about anything, as long as Republicans reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, even if its for a short period of time.

"Let's stop the excuses. Let's take a vote in the House. Let's end this shutdown, right now; let's put people back to work" Obama said.

Live Coverage: President Obama's Press Conference

Oct 8, 2013

President Barack Obama is delivering a statement and taking questions from the press at the White House starting today at 2:00 pm. Watch live below.

The work that Shaun O'Connell does is required by law, yet now he's sidelined by the government shutdown.

O'Connell reviews disability claims for the Social Security Administration in New York, checking that no one's gaming the system, while ensuring people with legitimate medical problems are compensated properly.

Billions of dollars are at stake with this kind of work, yet O'Connell is considered a nonessential employee for purposes of the partial government shutdown.

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