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Topic: government shutdown
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October 10, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Americans are weary of seeing political party leaders hold dueling press conferences to lambast each other.
We need to see more images like this:
More than 40 members of Congress stepped away from the political food fight happening in Washington, D.C. Thursday morning to show they still care about solving the nation’s problems. Organized by the No Labels movement, a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats urged the president and Congress to reach a deal to end the government shutdown.
Unfortunately, not a single Washington state delegate showed up. (They were all invited. We checked. Here’s the news release with the names of participating lawmakers.)
Photo ops can be superficial, but the message behind this latest No Labels gathering is an important one: “Stop fighting. Start fixing.” Here’s the message these lawmakers agree on:
No Labels works to restore collaboration and common sense in government and is an essential counterweight to the political warfare that’s become all too common.
That’s a sensible platform that more lawmakers should unite behind. No Labels has a coalition of about 70 congressional members who’ve pledged to look beyond their party affiliation to do what’s right for the country. Last November, The Seattle Times published this editorial on the movement’s promise to break congressional gridlock.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., is the lone state delegate to join No Labels’ “Problem Solvers” roster. I hope others will opt in and show us they put their country above party politics. Symbolic gestures can lead to action. That’s the only way we’ll get out of this mess.
October 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM
During the federal government shutdown, the National Institutes of Health plans to turn away roughly 200 patients each week from its Washington, D.C.-based clinical research center, including children with cancer, according to The Washington Post. Patients enroll in NIH clinical trials after conventional medical treatments have failed. But with nearly three-quarters of the NIH staff being furloughed, taking on new patients is not an option — even if that means some of the patients will get worse, perhaps die.
This is not the shutdown’s only effect on the lives of struggling children here in Washington and around the nation. If it only lasts a few days, Education Week notes there will likely be little impact on schools and districts. But if the shutdown and furloughs continue in the long-term, it could cause the kinds of problems outlined in this report.
The roughly $22 billion in federal funds sent to states and school districts to cover Title 1 efforts for low-income kids, special education and other programs will still go out the door. However:
“A protracted delay in Department obligations and payments beyond one week would severely curtail the cash flow to school districts, colleges and universities, and vocational rehabilitation agencies that depend on the Department to support their services,” a department memo warned.
October 1, 2013 at 7:39 PM
If members of Congress fail at their basic job of passing a sensible budget to keep government functioning, the least they can do is show some solidarity with the thousands of Washington federal employees likely to suffer from their inaction.
Give U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer a light pat on the back for being the first member of Washington’s congressional delegation to make a personal sacrifice following the government shutdown of 2013.
The Gig Harbor Democrat posted the following tweet on Monday after it became clear the House and Senate had reached an impasse:
Today I announced I will give up my pay for the duration of a government shutdown. http://t.co/3LFkL7ACSx
— Rep. Derek Kilmer (@RepDerekKilmer) September 30, 2013
As this KING 5 report notes, the U.S. Constitution actually requires members of Congress be paid automatically, but they can still return funds or donate to charity. Representatives and senators make $174,000 annually.
Back in January, Washington’s three freshman Democratic representatives signed on to a “no budget, no pay” provision in a previous bill to temporarily raise the debt ceiling. Our editorial board had hoped this gimmick would help to end an era of brinksmanship. It didn’t work to avert this latest shutdown, but at least U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene and Denny Heck joined Kilmer in staying true to their word by posting the following tweets Tuesday:
I am making an immediate contribution from my salary to support a local org which is assisting furloughed employees affected by the shutdown
— Denny Heck (@RepDennyHeck) October 1, 2013
During the shutdown, many govt workers will be working without pay. For the duration of the shutdown, I will be returning all of my salary.
— Rep. Suzan DelBene (@RepDelBene) October 1, 2013
DelBene gets extra kudos for consistency. “When sequestration began earlier this year, I returned 8.2% of my salary back to the Treasury, and for the duration of this shutdown, I will return the remainder of my personal salary as well,” she announced on her web site. (Note: DelBene can do this because she’s also the wealthiest member of Washington’s delegation. According to this 2012 Seattle Times news report, her average net worth is estimated at $53 million.) (more…)
October 1, 2013 at 3:56 PM
The federal government shutdown could affect up to 50,000 federal employees in Washington state.
National forests and monuments, including Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, closed Tuesday.
And U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray shuttered their district offices statewide.
Unless Congress strikes a deal, thousands of civilian workers considered nonessential to the federal courts and military bases are expected to be furloughed.
That means smaller paychecks and less money to spend at a time when the economy is experiencing a fragile recovery.
Have you seen any effects of the government shutdown? Tell us about it: