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UPDATE: Pay Checks Arrive Later This Month for Furloughed Employees

By: WSAZ News Staff; Andrew Colegrove; Olivia Fecteau Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; Andrew Colegrove; Olivia Fecteau Email
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress has missed the deadline for averting the first partial government shutdown in 17 years.      

As the clock struck midnight Monday, House Republicans were demanding that the Senate negotiate their demand for a one-year delay in making millions of people buy health insurance under President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law. Minutes before midnight, the White House ordered a shutdown.      

The Democratic Senate on Monday twice rejected GOP demands to delay key portions of what has become to known as Obamacare as a condition for keeping the government open.      

An estimated 800,000 federal workers faced furloughs though many were told work a half day Tuesday. Critical functions like air traffic control and military operations will continue. Social Security benefits will be paid. National parks and most federal offices will close.
 

10/21/13 @ 8:45 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Life has started to return to normal as the federal government sprang back to life after the 16-day partial shutdown came to a close.

Even the popular panda cam at the National Zoo was back online Thursday, though the zoo itself won't reopen until Friday.

Federal workers who were furloughed or worked without pay during the shutdown will get back pay in their next paychecks, which for most employees come Oct. 29.

National parks removed barriers and welcomed visitors again.

A Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokeswoman says returning employees face a backlog of work, particularly emails from people applying for permits.

The World War II Memorial became a flash point of anger and blame over the government shutdown. Now the memorial is calm and peaceful again.



UPDATE 10/17/13 @ 12:45 a.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Obama has signed a measure passed by the House and Senate to avert default on debt, and ending the partial government shutdown.


UPDATE 10/16/13 @ 10:20 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has passed a measure late Wednesday night to raise the nation's borrowing limit to prevent a default and end the government shutdown.

It passed by a 285-144 vote.

The bill would reopen the government through Jan. 15 and permit the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer.

The Senate had passed the measure earlier Wednesday night.

Passage of the bill late Wednesday in the House and Senate ended a Washington-created crisis that closed much of government for 16 days. It came on the eve of the date the Treasury Department warned it would no longer be able to borrow to pay the government's bills.

Congress faced a deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. That's when Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had said the government would reach the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and could no longer borrow to meet its obligations.

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., released the following statement:

“For now, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief, but this is a temporary respite. We should hope and pray that cooler heads will prevail before we must revisit these issues early next year, and that the Majority in the House of Representatives will not revive the threat of a shutdown and default to extract political concessions.

"Such tactics are reckless and completely at odds with the Constitutional oath to which every Member has sworn, and I hope that my colleagues from both sides of the aisle will stand up to those extremists who would put their personal political fortunes above the collective well-being of the Nation.”

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UPDATE 10/16/13 @ 8:20 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate has passed a measure to raise the nation's borrowing limit to prevent a default.

It passed by an 81-18 vote.

The measure now heads to the House, which is expected to back the bill before day's end.

Senate passage came several hours after Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the bipartisan compromise.

The bill would reopen the government through Jan. 15 and permit the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer.

Congress faced a deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. That's when Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had said the government would reach the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and could no longer borrow to meet its obligations.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., issued the following statement:

“I am pleased that our leaders could put politics aside and come together in a bipartisan way to reach a deal that reopens the government and prevents a first-ever default on our debt. I thank Senator Susan Collins and our group of fourteen bipartisan senators – seven Republicans, six Democrats and one Independent – who helped draft the template of the final budget deal.

“The bottom line is that we managed to avoid this self-inflicted wound to the national and global economy, but it is past time for America to get its financial house in order. We need a bipartisan, big fix like the Bowles-Simpson template that focuses on spending, revenue and reform. I am hopeful that the development of the bipartisan, bicameral budget committee required under this agreement will be a first step in finding a balanced approach to reducing our deficit, balancing our budget, and responsibly reining in out-of-control spending.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., issued the following statement:

“There’s no doubt that the last two weeks have been a frustrating and difficult time for the people of West Virginia and our nation. Because a small group of Republican House members decided to create a crisis over their objections to the health care law, families have been put at risk along with the full faith and credit of the U.S. I have been in the Senate long enough to understand that people have differences of opinion, and differing ideas when it comes to how laws should impact the American people. Although in the past, elected leaders in Congress took seriously their obligation to govern. We did our best to rise above the fray by talking to each other and compromising.

“I urge all those who manufactured this shutdown and brought us to the brink of default to think again about carrying on with their tactics. We’re going to find ourselves in this same situation before long, so they need to be prepared to act differently. This reckless behavior is unsustainable and it’s no way to seriously run a government. Politics has a place in our system and that’s fine. But when it becomes so paralyzing that it causes our government to shut down, and puts our nation’s reputation in jeopardy, politics has gone too far.

“The deal we agreed to today is not perfect but it’s a step forward. It will get MSHA personnel back on the job so our miners’ safety is no longer at risk. It will provide security for our veterans who need and deserve access to VA services. It will get our intelligence analysts back to work so they can resume their critically important work that prevents terrorist attacks and thwarts attempts to breach our national security. It will begin to repair the loss of confidence in our economy.

“We have to find a way to get on common ground. This is the only way we’re going to do big things for our nation, and the only way we can restore the American people’s trust in their elected officials and the world’s trust in our ability to be a strong and reliable economic partner. Let’s learn from this moment, so that when we’re asked to make tough decisions again soon, we’re focused only on doing good for the people of this great country.”

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UPDATE 10/16/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON (WSAZ) – On the 16th day of the government shutdown, the Senate has reached an agreement to avoid the default and end the government shutdown. They plan to vote on the deal about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The deal would reopen the government through Jan. 15 and increase the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. The question on everyone’s mind: what does this mean for the thousands of furloughed government workers?

“They won't come back until the [deal] is passed, so hopefully we'll get it passed tomorrow [Thursday],” Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in an interview with WSAZ.com Wednesday. “That means if it’s tomorrow, they come back Friday, or more likely probably on Monday, but hopefully the quicker the better. […] I'd like to pass it today [Wednesday] and get them back tomorrow. There's no reason for anyone to be furloughed right now.”

The Senate budget committee will have to meet and come up with a new budget to present to the entire Senate by mid-December to avoid this all happening again in just a few months.

Two Senators from our region played key roles in coming up with this deal. Both say while this isn’t an ideal situation, this deal is crucial to prevent default and end the shutdown. But Manchin said Wednesday the shutdown never should have happened in the first place, and it’s caused problems for the American people.

“I always heard about how the Senate used to work, how the Congress used to work, and they always came together in a crisis,” Manchin said. “This was a self-made crisis. We should have never shut the government down for one minute, let alone two weeks."

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that Republicans won’t just accept Obamacare, and they will continue to fight against it, believing it will damage the U.S. economy further. For now, though, McConnell said they had to focus on what was at hand in coming up with a bipartisan deal.

“The relief we hope for is to reopen the government, avoid default and protect the historic cuts we achieved under the Budget Control Act. This is far less than many of us had hoped for, frankly. But it is far better than what some had sought,” McConnell said.

Both Senators say lawmakers must work together to get the country’s finances under control. For both parties, that includes coming up with a budget that will control government spending and reduce the nation’s deficit.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/16/13 @ 1:10 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is urging quick congressional approval of a deal to raise the debt ceiling and end the partial government shutdown.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says the deal reached by Senate leaders "achieves what's necessary" to reopen the government, remove the threat of default and move past brinksmanship.

Carney says the agreement is bipartisan and that President Barack Obama is looking for Congress to act so he can sign it and remove the threat to the economy.

Obama's spokesman is praising Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for working together. Reid announced the deal at the start of Wednesday's Senate session.

The agreement would reopen the government through Jan. 15 and increase the nation's borrowing authority through Feb. 7.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 10/16/13 @ 12:35 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says he won't delay a vote on a bipartisan budget deal that will reopen the government and avoid a financial default.

Cruz had forced the shutdown by demanding that President Barack Obama gut his health care law in exchange for a bill to keep the government running.

He told reporters Wednesday that he would vote against the bipartisan bill but wouldn't use Senate delaying tactics to stall the legislation.

The Texas senator has won praise from the tea party and other conservatives for his actions.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 10/16/13 @ 12:21 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic leader Harry Reid says Senate leaders have reached a bipartisan deal to avoid default and end the government shutdown, now in its 16th day.

Reid made the announcement at the start of the Senate session on Wednesday.

The deal would reopen the government through Jan. 15 and increase the nation's borrowing authority through Feb. 7.

Reid thanked Republican leader Mitch McConnell for working out an agreement.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 10/2/13 @ 8 p.m.
FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Nearly a hundred employees at the New River Gorge National River have been furloughed following the federal government shutdown, a park spokesperson says.

Only nine employees considered essential are still on the job overseeing the 70,000 acres of the park, along with the Gauley River National Area and the Bluestone National Scenic River.

The park’s visitors centers are blocked off with caution tape and a sign duct-taped to a barrel saying "Because of the federal government shutdown, this national park service facility is closed.”

Roads to campgrounds have also been blockaded.

Rangers have been telling visitors they have to vacate by Thursday since the campground can't be maintained or fully patrolled during this government shutdown.



UPDATE 9/30/13 @ 8 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The government shutdown Tuesday could create ripple effects across the nation and here at home.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District is one of the big employers affected locally.

They're looking at furloughing 450 of their employees who work on their flood risk reduction sites and recreational facilities, spokesperson Brian Maka said.

That district of the Corps has nine locks and dams in five states.

Maka says despite the shutdown, they would be keeping 300 workers on to maintain safety and protection of property.

The Huntington V.A. Hospital will not be affected, Public Affairs Officer Debbie Brammer said.

Brammer says they've already been fully funded through next September.

"We've been fully funded for fiscal year 2014,” she said. “That means our hospital, our clinic, all of our services will remain open."

However, veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits will have to wait longer for a decision because the board will not issue any decisions during a shutdown.

National parks across the country will have to close.

A spokesperson at the New River Gorge Park in Fayette County, W.Va., says the timing is particularly bad for them because October is one of their busiest months.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear sent out tweets Monday evening saying Kentucky will have funding for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program thanks to advanced appropriation in their 2013 budget bill.

Government backed home loans would be delayed.

Mail delivery and social security benefits would not be affected.

If the shutdown lasts more than 10 days, federal courts will begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential, but cases would still be heard.



ORIGINAL STORY 9/22/13 @ 4:13 p.m.
WASHINGTON D.C. (WSAZ) -- Congress is locked in another showdown over spending, and President Obama is telling lawmakers to put aside their differences - and pass a budget.

House republicans did pass a spending bill last week, but it defunds the Presidents health care plan: something the senate - which is controlled by democrats - is not going to let pass.

That leaves nine days for congress to compromise and work out a plan, or Uncle Sam stops paying the bills.
"This legislation is in the Senate and now the ball is in Harry Reid's court to keep this government open," Rep Trey Radel, (R) Florida, said.

"They want to shut the government down and force the president to stop his healthcare bill," Rep Jim McDermott, (D) Washington, said.

"We are running out of time to fix this.Both houses of Congress can take a simple vote to pay our bills on time, then work together to pass a budget on time."

"We are running out of time to fix this," President Obama said. "Both houses of Congress can take a simple vote to pay our bills on time, then work together to pass a budget on time."

The big question is what would a government shutdown mean for Americans.

Officials say if it happens -- paychecks for military personnel could be delayed, national parks and monuments would close to tourists and thousands of government workers would likely be furloughed.


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