The president signed a bill ensuring the military will be paid during the shutdown.
The New York Times reports that the government is shutting down for the first time in nearly 20 years: “The impasse meant that 800,000 federal workers were to be furloughed and more than a million others would be asked to work without pay. The Office of Management and Budget issued orders shortly before the midnight deadline that ‘agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations’ because Congress had failed to act to keep the federal government financed.”
The shutdown comes, of course, because President Obama and Senate Democrats refused a move by House Republicans to delay today’s implementation of ObamaCare’s health care exchanges. If you’re going to start shopping for insurance today, you should check out PhillyMag’s Ultimate Guide to ObamaCare.
So that part of government will be working. If we’re in a shutdown, what exactly is shutting down? AP has an overview of what’s being shut down—national parks, as everybody has pointed out—and says the ultimate ramification could be a slowdown in the economy. Which: Isn’t the economy already slow?
Anyway, AP says: “A shutdown that lasts two weeks or more would probably start to slow an already sluggish economy, analysts say. Closures of national parks would hurt hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses. And federal workers who lost pay would spend less, thereby curbing economic growth. A three-week shutdown would slow the economy’s annual growth rate in the October-December quarter by up to 0.9 of a percentage point, Goldman Sachs has estimated.”
So there’s that. And then there’s this:
UPDATE: The federal government is shutting down, as the House, Senate and White House were unable to resolve a budget standoff over the president’s healthcare law. From the New York Times:
The impasse meant that 800,000 federal workers were to be furloughed and more than a million others would be asked to work without pay. The Office of Management and Budget issued orders shortly before the midnight deadline that “agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations” because Congress had failed to act to keep the federal government financed.
The Times also has a handy flowchart to help you keep apace of the inaction.
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So, you may be wondering, what does the coming government shutdown mean for Philadelphia? Well, a wide swath of federal workers will be furloughed beginning at midnight tonight, and Philly’s got quite a few of them, from Social Security Administration workers to Department of Justice employees working at the 2nd District courthouse. But while it’s unclear exactly how the shutdown will affect all those employees, there is one thing we do know for sure: All 401 U.S. National Parks will be shut down tomorrow, including Independence National Historic Park, which employs around 200 people. I.e, The freaking Liberty Bell will be closed. As will freaking Independence Hall. (Also: Valley Forge National Park.) Tourists, get ready to get your kicks by staring thoughtfully at the facade of the Second Bank of the United States.
That’s it. Time to scrap everything and start over.
When government shuts down this week—and as of this writing, such a shutdown seemed a certainty—we the people should put our foot down and tell the government to stay shut down. You’re fired. Goodbye. Hang a “closed” sign on the doors of the Capitol and send everybody back to their home states.
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The Confederate White Knights, a Maryland-based Ku Klux Klan group, has obtained a special permit to hold a demonstration at Gettysburg National Military Park on Saturday October 5th. You can find them north of George Mead headquarters at 12:30 p.m. (Huh, I thought white supremacists hated hoodies…) The rally is reportedly being held in protest of president Obama’s immigration policies (what, like this one?). But a quick glance at the group’s website–under construction, as you can see–reflects a larger, um, agenda.
If you believe our country is being destroyed by inside forces in our government. Join us on the 5th for an outspoken first amendment right. Our constitution has not been dissolved yet!
But! To join you must be…
- be 100% heterosexual
- be of European Heritage
- be an American Citizen born and raised
- be 100% patriotic to America
- You cannot be MUSLIM
- You cannot be a JEW
- You cannot be a SATANIST
- You cannot be COMMUNIST
- You cannot be a convicted Pedophile (child molester)
- You cannot be a convicted Rapist
- You cannot be a convicted Terrorist
- You cannot have any ties with any Terrorist group or Terrorist Activities against America
- You must complete an application and signed oath
See you there!
As my colleague Joel Mathis noted yesterday, Vladimir Putin wrote perhaps the most astonishing, chutzpah-filled op-ed every to grace the pages of the New York Times. Several NJ and PA pols down in Washington weren’t too pleased, either.
Bob Mendendez told CNN he “almost wanted to vomit” after reading the piece.
Bob Casey called it “obnoxious and misleading.”
Pat Toomey, while not responding to the op-ed itself, said he was “deeply skeptical about the motivation of the Russians and the viability of their plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.”
Chaka Fattah, in a tweet, said “America is exceptional enough for Putin to be able to write Op Ed in NYT & Assad on TV with Charlie Rose .Free speech.Russia & Syria try it?”
Jim Kenney, no fan of Russia these days, had this to say about the possibility of reaching a diplomatic agreement with Putin regarding Syria’s chemical weapons: “Yea, I trust Putin. He’s got nice eyes. Think he may have poisoned a few folks in his day. Haha!”
A bronze plaque on a 9/11 Memorial plaque in Scranton, PA has been stolen, apparently sometime earlier this week (pictured above). The memorial was erected for PA National Guard Sgt. and Scranton native Jan Argonish, who died fighting in Afghanistan in 2007. [WNEP]
Former Congressman William H. Gray III, 71, passed away Monday in London, according to his Washington, DC office. A widely influential figure in local and national Politics, Rev. Grey served as the mentor for a generation of African American politicians that includes the likes of Rep. Chaka Fattah, former Councilman George Burrell, City Councilwoman Marian Tasco and Rep. Louise Bishop. He was attending the tennis matches at Wimbledon with his son Andrew at the time of his death, which spokesman Bill Epstein described as “sudden.” The cause of death has not yet been announced.
Local politicians reacted sympathetically to Rev. Gray’s death, with Mayor Nutter telling the Inquirer he was “”stunned, saddened and hurt” at the Reverend’s passing. Councilwoman remembered Gray’s oration as “short, sweet, to the point.” Former Councilman George Burrell called Rev. Gray one of the “transformative leaders in Philadelphia.” In Harrisburg, the house paused for a moment of silence at the news of his death.
Before his passing, Rev. Gray served as the chairman emeritus of Gray Global Advisors, a Washington consultancy he founded after stepping down as president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund. His representation of the of Second Congressional District of Pennsylvania earlier in his career allowed him to rise to Majority Whip in the House of Representatives, the first African American to do so in the 20th century. His work in Congress shaped the country’s foreign policy efforts and generated resources for international aid. He left in 1991 to lead the college fund.
As a proponent of social justice, his work goes unrivaled, and he will be hugely missed—both in Philadelphia and beyond. [Philly.com]
Yesterday I reported that the status of gay marriage in Pennsylvania won’t be affected at all by yesterday’s Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8. Even if a gay couple gets married in New York and lives in Philly, PA still doesn’t consider them married, so neither do the federal offices who administer the benefits married couples receive. But there are at least a couple groups of people that will profit from the DOMA decision, even if they can’t get married here. Newsworks reports:
Israeli Sharon Gershoni has struggled to maintain legal status in the United States for almost a decade because her wife, Sarra Lev, could not sponsor her for a visa. Speaking just after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was released on Wednesday, [Philadelphians] Gershoni and Lev said they’re overjoyed to be newly eligible for immigration relief.
And as NPR reports, it seems that federal employees can also now hop onto their spouses’ Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan. And beyond that, there feds are still trying to figure out what other benefits same-sex couples can receive, regardless of what state they live in.
On Face the Nation on Sunday, host Bob Schieffer let loose on our “do-nothing” Congress, lamenting how much things have changed since he first came to Washington four decades ago:
“There are some exceptions, but many House Members, especially, have come to live in a world unknown and disconnected to the rest of us,” he said. “They work three days a week, they take long and frequent vacations, and busy themselves with things that have no connection to the rest of us — fundraising to ensure re-election, traveling, issuing press releases, and more fundraising. It’s obvious they want to be something — a member of Congress. But when I came to Washington, most members wanted to do something. When did that go out of style?”
In his rebuke of the modern congressman, Schieffer was speaking for the majority of Americans who have become jaded by the lack of principled representation in a Washington where legislators are more concerned with pandering to an increasingly narrow base than with being stewards of a great and diverse nation. Where Tocqueville once wrote admiringly of the absence of “public careers” in America, the U.S. Congress — which was once composed of practical men of modest means — has become the bastion of professional politicians drawn from an elite segment of U.S. society.
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