UConn Philosophy professor Michael Lynch wrote in a recent New York Times opinion piece, that we’re living in a “dangerous political moment.” Not just because of the shutdown of the federal government and the near default on the nation’s debts, but he writes: “The real damage is caused by the idea that that our current democratic form of government should be shuttered.” That a large segment of the population might think government really is a bad idea.
It’s back to work for hundreds of thousands of furloughed government employees. President Obama has signed legislation ending the partial government shutdown and averting a U.S. default. But U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said there’s no reason to celebrate.
Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 12:32 am
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.
Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 10:23 pm
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.
As Congress works to come to a deal Wednesday to try to reopen the federal government, Connecticut is still dealing with the fallout from lack of government funds and agency support. Political scientist Ron Schurin appeared on WNPR's Where We Live to explain just why the political gridlock has been so tough. Other hot topics: ethical problems are plaguing a number of politicians in the state. That and more in The Wheelhouse Digest.
The state may shoulder more federal responsibilities as the government shutdown continues. Connecticut has already begun to foot the bill for almost $1 million worth of programs, including keeping open Head Start places in the state.
Connecticut farmers say their business has been disrupted during the ongoing government shutdown. Bonnie Burr, assistant director for Cooperative Extension at the University of Connecticut, said farmers are frustrated by the closure of agencies run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Burr works with communities around the state on economic development opportunities.
The ripple effects of the government shutdown are starting to extend beyond federal employees into the private industry. Small businesses are bracing for a range of issues from delayed regulatory approvals to a possible crunch in cash flow.
It's all about cash money in The Wheelhouse Digest. While the government is coming close to hitting the debt ceiling again, with federal dollars in a state of seizure, someone else is in the news for stealing public money from a Connecticut town, and leading a "double life." Can anyone make an honest dollar anymore? That and more below.
State education officials plan to submit Connecticut’s grant application for next Race to the Top competition this week. But as the federal government shutdown drags on, state-level officials have no one to answer questions about the federal requirements. Ninety-four percent of the employees at the U.S. Department of Education are on furlough.
Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 6:02 pm
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.
Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 8:33 pm
The government shutdown is likely to mean an early death for thousands of mice used in research on diseases such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's.
Federal research centers including the National Institutes of Health will have to kill some mice to avoid overcrowding, researchers say. Others will die because it is impossible to maintain certain lines of genetically altered mice without constant monitoring by scientists. And most federal scientists have been banned from their own labs since Oct. 1.
August saw a big boost in home sales in Connecticut, with 2,893 homes sold that month. It's the highest number of single family homes sold for that month in six years, up ten percent from the same month in 2012.
Congress has passed a bill to ensure active duty military are paid during the federal government shutdown, but what about the National Guard? There are direct impacts on the families of 5,000 Connecticut guard members who respond to both federal and state missions.
Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 2:40 pm
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki warned lawmakers on Wednesday that the partial government shutdown means that about 3.8 million veterans will not receive disability compensation next month.
Shinseki, in testimony before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said pensions to more than half a million vets or surviving spouses will also be derailed if the stalemate over a temporary spending measure drags on into late October.
The federal shutdown has been tough on a lot of people, as was made eminently clear this morning during the Wheelhouse episode of Where We Live, when plenty of impassioned callers made their frustrated views known. Making matters a little tougher, the U.S. Treasury Department is running out of cash to pay its bills. More on that below in The Wheelhouse Digest, plus a link to watch the Bonnie Foreshaw clemency hearing live from Niantic.
On the surface, air travel appears very much the same as it did before the government shutdown. But there have been big changes behind the scenes. Even when there isn't a government shutdown in effect, most people involved in putting planes in the air are invisible to travelers.
The Treasury Department says it will begin running out of money to pay its bills by Oct. 17, if the partial government shutdown isn't over by then. That prospect worries the financial markets. Treasury debt plays a fundamental role in the global economy, and economists agree that a debt default would have dire consequences. But some Republicans insist that a default doesn't have to happen.
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.
Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 6:45 pm
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.