Topic: government shutdown
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November 4, 2013 at 4:13 PM
A new poll by Moore Information, out of Portland, found that more Washington voters blame Republicans for the federal government shutdown than President Obama or Democrats in Congress.
The survey of 500 likely voters, taken Oct. 23-24, found that 43 percent blame Republicans, while 31 percent blame President Obama and Democrats in Congress. Another 19 percent said both parties are at fault. The remaining 7 percent blamed neither party or have no opinion.
The poll also found that most voters, 53 percent, disagree with the position the Tea Party took in the shutdown negotiations, while just 26 percent agreed. Another 21 percent said they had no opinion.
According to the survey, 42 percent strongly disagreed with the Tea Party, while only 15 percent “strongly” agreed. Even among Republicans there wasn’t majority support for the Tea Party position, according to the poll. Moore’s report said “the fact that the Tea Party does not garner majority support on the shutdown even among Republicans is a something of a wake-up call for the Tea Party and is indicative of a bigger problem for that group among the electorate as a whole.
The poll had a plus or minus 4 percent margin of error. Moore Information has many GOP clients, including the Washington state Republican Party.
October 11, 2013 at 12:45 PM
No information will be coming out next Wednesday about how many people are unemployed because the folks who calculate that information are, well, unemployed.
The state Employment Security Department sent out an email to that effect Friday, stating “the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics is closed and hasn’t been able to transfer the necessary data to the states. In addition, nearly all of Employment Security’s labor-market information staff has been furloughed because the federal funds that support the office have been cut off.”
According to the department, the September report was scheduled to be released Oct. 16, but will be delayed indefinitely. “Once the federal office is open again, we will learn if and when there will be a September report,” the email said.
October 9, 2013 at 8:06 AM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is on the record: He would vote for a no-strings attached spending bill to end the shutdown.
The Auburn Republican made that declaration during an interview Saturday with KIRO Radio host Jason Rantz (The comment is at the 2:10 mark in the interview).
Rantz asked Reichert if he was among House GOP caucus members who are willing to back a clean spending bill to reopen government. Reichert did not immediately answer, but went on to say, “Whatever bill comes to the floor that opens this government, I’m going to vote yes on.”
“So if (House Speaker) John Boehner today put up a bill that was just a clean resolution, you’d support it? Rantz asked.
“Yes,” Reichert said.
Reichert has avoided such explicit talk in the days before and since the federal government shutdown began last Tuesday.
On Friday, the day before the interview with Rantz, Reichert emailed constituents numerating the various piecemeal bills that House Republicans offered — and Senate Democrats rejected — to reopen select parts of the government.
“Please urge your Senators to pass these bills while we work to find a solution to fix our budget, solve our debt crisis, and get the American economy going again,” he wrote.
Reichert does not mention he would be willing to drop conditions, such as delaying the Affordable Care Act, in order to end the shutdown.
On Tuesday, asked for Reichert’s stance on a clean bill, his spokeswoman said, “The Congressman has been clear that he will continue to support legislation that opens the government. It is imperative that Democrats come to the table to negotiate a bill that they can agree to.”
October 8, 2013 at 4:03 PM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is among a renegade group of House Republicans willing to vote for a no-strings attached spending bill to reopen the federal government.
Or is he?
CNN and The Washington Post on Tuesday both counted the Auburn Republican as supporting a “clean” spending bill to fund government — without delaying Obamacare and other conditions that have provoked a stalemate with Democrats.
House Speaker John Boehner has refused to hold a vote on such bill, claiming there isn’t sufficient Republican support. But a frenzy of whip counting by the media has turned up more than enough GOP votes to reach the 217 mark needed for passage (the Republican-controlled House is split 232-200, with three vacancies).
Reichert was the only one of the four House Republicans from Washington state counted as a “yes” on a clean spending bill.
The New York Times last week reported that Reichert privately questioned the GOP’s end game in the standoff.
But Reichert has repeatedly declined to confirm it. And his public statements have been ambiguous at best.
Asked about Reichert’s presumed support for a clean bill, his spokeswoman, Leighanna Driftmier, said by email, ”The Congressman has been clear that he will continue to support legislation that opens the government. It is imperative that Democrats come to the table to negotiate a bill that they can agree to.”
October 8, 2013 at 12:49 PM
WASHINGTON — Is Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz blaming the GOP for the government shutdown?
In an open letter posted on his company’s website Monday, Schultz called on business leaders to break their “relative silence and impact” regarding the on-going congressional shenanigans.
“I find myself utterly disappointed by the level of irresponsibility and dysfunction we are witness to with our elected political leadership,” Schultz wrote.
He promised Starbucks would take unspecified “actions in the coming weeks to galvanize our customers, inspire our people and encourage the communities we serve to come together to take care of each other.”
Then he added: ”I don’t pretend that both parties are equally to blame for this crisis. But, I do think they are equally responsible for leading us to a solution.”
Zack Hutson, a Starbucks spokesman, declined to say where he lays the blame.
“We’ll have more to share soon but have nothing to add at this time,” Hutson said.
The shutdown, which began at 12:01 a.m. last Tuesday, resulted when Republicans refused to vote for a temporary spending bill to keep the government open unless they could defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. Democrats refused to undo President Obama’s signature legislation.
Democrats have been agitating for House Speaker John Boehner to hold a vote on a “clean” spending bill, which they say has the backing of enough moderate Republicans for passage.
The outspoken Schultz made a similar foray into political criticism in 2011. That’s when the United States very nearly breached the federal debt ceiling under Republican insistence on deep spending cuts. A disgusted Schultz called for a boycott of political contributions.
October 8, 2013 at 10:51 AM
WASHINGTON — The Veterans Benefits Administration furloughed 7,000 workers nationally on Tuesday and closed its regional office in Seattle and in 55 other cities, marking the start of the second week of the federal government shutdown.
The actions won’t immediately affect existing benefits claims or new claims. But the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) warned benefits checks and disability compensation slated to go out Nov. 1 could be delayed if the shutdown drags out until the end of October.
Regional offices handle calls and visits from veterans checking on their benefits. The Seattle office is located inside the Jackson Federal Building downtown. A call to the Seattle office Tuesday morning was answered by an automatic line saying wait time for live help was 25 minutes. The VA’s toll-free lines for vets seeking help remain open.
The 7,000 furloughs are on top of 2,754 VA’s information-technology workers who were released without pay on Monday. The House voted unanimously Saturday to approve retroactive pay for furloughed workers, but the Senate has not voted on it.
The VA also operates seven in-take offices in Washington for benefits claims. It was unclear if those locations — all inside military installations such as Joint Base Lewis McChord and the Naval Station Everett — remain open.
Sen. Patty Murray, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said veterans have already been affected by housing and employment programs that have been halted by the lapse in government funding.
“These furloughs are yet another example of how veterans are being punished by all aspects of the government shutdown,” Murray said in an email. “And the frustrating truth is that all of these services for our veterans could be restored tomorrow if John Boehner simply allowed a vote on a bill to reopen the government that is sitting in the House of Representatives and that is supported by Democrats and Republicans.”
October 8, 2013 at 10:01 AM
The state Employment Security Department furloughed 418 state employees on Tuesday and reduced hours for another 450 workers because of the federal government shutdown.
That represents about half of the 1,669 people employed by the agency. Employment Security, which gets 87 percent of its funding from the federal government, is using state dollars to pay the staff needed to process unemployment claims.
“We figure we can keep going with the state funds for a few weeks. If we go on for a month, we’ll have to reexamine that,” said Sheryl Hutchison, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Hutchison said the department furloughed managers, human resource staff and fraud investigators, among others. Congress is likely to authorize back pay for furloughed federal employees, but that appears unlikely to happen for state workers, she said.
“Under the state constitution there’s a limitation of the gifting of funds for work that was not performed,” Hutchison said. “So our ability to reimburse state employees retroactively is in question.”
On a more positive note, the Washington Military Department has called back most of the 850 workers it furloughed at the beginning of the month because of congressional action to pay civilian military employees.
The department has called back 764 military employees, all of whom will likely get back pay, said Karina Shagren, a spokeswoman for the agency. However, 80 state employees remain on furlough and, as is the case with employment security, it appears they won’t be eligible for back pay.
October 2, 2013 at 10:32 AM
Update at 2:45 p.m. with Reichert’s response:
WASHINGTON — Signs are growing that enough moderate House Republicans may side with Democrats to to end the government shutdown. But so far, none of the four House GOP members from Washington will say if they back a “clean” spending bill stripped of the condition to delay the Affordable Care Act.
A spokesman for Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said Wednesday the second-term Republican from Camas wants to get government reopened as quickly as possible. But he would not say whether Herrera Beutler thinks the GOP should drop its demand on Obamacare.
“At this time she still doesn’t think it will help to second-guess House leaders’ strategy in the media while negotiations are ongoing,” the spokesman, Casey Bowman, said.
Herrera Beutler left town on Tuesday to return to Palo Alto, Calif., where her infant daughter, who was born without kidneys, is hospitalized.
The offices of Republican Reps.
Dave Reichert of Auburn, Doc Hastings of Pasco and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, did not respond.
Reichert’s office emailed his response: ”I will continue voting for legislation on the House floor that keeps the government running.”
McMorris Rodgers, who as chair of the House Republican Conference is one of Speaker John Boehner’s three top lieutenants, has been a vocal critic of the health-reform law. She, along with Reichert, Herrera Beutler and Hastings, have uniformly voted to defund or repeal it.
House Democrats have voted in lockstep against every Republican proposals for temporary spending bills – all of which came tied to conditions to delay or repeal Obamacare, or to fund the government piecemeal to keeps national parks or museums open.
Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, posted a statement on his Facebook page saying Democrats have enough GOP support to reopen the federal government.
“But Republican leaders aren’t willing to go against the wishes of the hardline conservatives in their party,” he wrote. “The Tea Party brought us this shutdown and now is refusing to let us end it.”
October 1, 2013 at 10:24 AM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell on Tuesday furloughed the “overwhelming majority” of their staffs and closed their district offices in Washington state because of the federal government shutdown.
Murray’s spokesman Matt McAlvanah said the decision was based on “legal guidance our office has received” about which employees are deemed essential and exempt from furloughs.
At least four of the delegation’s Democratic House members, however, said they have retained all their staff members.
“All of our employees, in the district and D.C., are essential,” said Amber Macdonald, spokeswoman for Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle.
Reps. Suzan DelBene of Medina, Adam Smith of Bellevue and Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor also said they have not furloughed any employees.
In event of a lapse in appropriations, lawmakers have latitude in deciding which of their employees are essential to carrying out their “constitutional responsibilities.” Those duties include drafting bills, preparing for hearings and conducting research.
Spokesmen for two Republicans, Reps. Doc Hastings of Pasco and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas, said they have furloughed “some” staff members, but declined to elaborate.
Murray’s six offices in Washington — in Seattle, Everett, Spokane, Tacoma, Yakima and Vancouver, will not respond to calls and emails from constituents for the duration of the shutdown. Same for Cantwell’s six district offices, one of which is in Richland instead of Yakima.
Kilmer, on the other hand, announced Tuesday he would extend district office hours in Bremerton and Tacoma to assist constituents affected by the shutdown. Kilmer’s Sixth District includes Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, and the federal government is the district’s largest employer.
June 24, 2013 at 2:02 PM
The governor’s office on Monday directed state agencies to begin notifying state workers of potential layoffs if there’s no budget deal by the end of the month.
Gov. Jay Inslee sent out a personal note to state employees saying, “I know today will be difficult for many of you. Temporary layoff notices will begin being distributed this afternoon as required by law, and I know those notices will generate a high level of anxiety, uncertainty and frustration … I’m doing everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen – and if legislators send me an agreed-upon budget, it won’t.”
In addition, his budget office directed state agencies to immediately begin sending out notices to workers saying that “as of this afternoon, the Legislature has not yet reached agreement on the 2013–15 operating and capital budgets. Therefore, effective immediately, agencies should begin sending out notices required to inform affected employees of a potential temporary layoff. Layoffs will be necessary if a budget is not adopted by midnight on June 30, 2013.”
The notices were expected to go out to around 26,000 general state government employees over the next several days if there’s no budget deal. Higher education, public schools and statewide elected officials — such as the attorney general and secretary of state — are responsible for their own notifications.
Templates were provided to agencies as well, including this one:
This is official notification that unless there is an approved 2013-15 operating budget, or in some instances a capital budget, beginning July 1, 2013, you will be temporarily laid off from your exempt position. The duration of this temporary layoff is unknown.
• You are directed not to perform any work duties while temporarily laid off.
• If you are scheduled to be on any form of approved paid leave during the temporary layoff, your leave approval is rescinded.
• Time spent on temporary layoff is not considered time in pay status for the purpose of holiday compensation.
• Time spent on temporary layoff is not considered time in pay status for the purpose of vacation and sick leave accruals.
Once the state has an approved a 2013-15 budget that funds your position, it is expected you will return to work on your next scheduled work day. The state has set up a website and toll free number to let all employees know when state employees should return to work.
Negotiators indicated Monday that they were very close to a deal, but they’ve been saying that for several days now.
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