The U.S. government shutdown continues with no clear end in sight. House Republicans continued to demand that the nation’s new health-care law be delayed or repealed and Democrats — including President Obama — were refusing to give in. The shutdown has now sent some 710,000 to 770,000 employees home across the country, delayed the paychecks of another 1.3 million “essential” workers, and shuttered numerous government functions.
Check here for the latest updates on all the political jostling and practical impacts.
From Federal Eye blogger Josh Hicks:
Four days into the government shutdown and with no end to the closure yet in sight, two of the largest federal-worker unions have scheduled a rally in Washington to protest the relative lack of progress by political leaders.
Members of the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union will take part in the demonstration slated for Friday at 11 a.m. at the House Triangle on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.
Labor leaders will emphasizing that the public servants on furlough because of the shutdown would rather do their jobs than be caught up in a political impasse, according to an announcements from the unions.
From The Fix’s Sean Sullivan:
After the federal government shutdown threatened the wedding plans of Washington-area residents Mike Cassesso and MaiLien Le, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert took matters into his own hands Thursday.
The couple had planned to wed at the Jefferson Memorial, site of their first date. But the shutdown threw a wrench in their plans. Enter Colbert, who convinced the couple to marry on his faux-news program.
From GovBeat’s Niraj Chokshi:
At least four Head Start early childhood education programs have ceased operations since the federal government shutdown. And another joins the list Friday, resulting in more than 5,000 children going without services nationwide.
Georgia’s Ninth District Opportunity Inc. Head Start program is the fifth and largest known program to have stopped operations since the federal government shut down Tuesday.
“We will be shut down as of Friday,” NDO Head Start Director Kay Laws said in a Thursday e-mail to The Washington Post. NDO serves 2,153 children in 113 classrooms, according to a news release.
From White House reporter Juliet Eilperin:
In the end, domestic politics trumped all.
The White House canceled the entire trip late Thursday night, concluding it could not go ahead with even a curtailed five-day visit to Indonesia and Brunei during a partial government shutdown. And in doing so, Obama may have reinforced the perception that the United State may be incapable of following through on its overseas commitments.
From Metro reporter Dana Hedgpeth:
The popular Capital Bikeshare program, where riders can rent a bike and drop it off at various locations throughout the Washington region, has seen a spike in its business, officials said, and the federal government shutdown may be playing a role.
On Tuesday, the first full day of the shutdown, Capital Bikeshare had its 18th busiest day — and its busiest Tuesday — ever, with 10,367 rides. The number of riders also set a record: 9,028.
On Wednesday, the Capital BikeShare tallied 10,393 rides — its 17th busiest day ever. D.C. transportation officials who help manage the program said they can’t say with certainty that the increase in business is related to the government shutdown. They said warm temperatures this week may have had something to do with it too.
From Federal Eye blogger Josh Hicks:
House and Senate lawmakers this week proposed legislation to retroactively pay the roughly 800,000 federal workers who are furloughed because of the partial government shutdown that started Tuesday.
The House back-pay measure could be up for a floor vote as early as Saturday, according to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who introduced the bill on Tuesday along with sponsor Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). As of Thursday, 120 lawmakers, including 18 Republicans, had added their names to the measure.
These marathon debates can be tiring — as evidenced by freshman Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) appearing to fall asleep while presiding over the House on Thursday night.
Dana Hedgpeth reports:
Day 4 of the federal government shutdown is bringing an unwanted – and unsightly – look in areas around the Mall and near national monuments in Washington.
Trash cans are overflowing along the Mall, officials said, as workers for the National Park Service are furloughed, and there’s virtually no one to empty them.
Of the roughly 300 employees who help manage and run the Mall – all but six are furloughed, according to Mike Litterst, acting chief spokesman for the park service.
“That’s the people who empty trash and cut grass and make the area look like the public expects it to look – inviting and well-maintained, just aren’t there,” he said.
Pizza boxes, empty water bottles and half eaten donuts filled one trash can on a sidewalk near the World War II memorial.
“It certainly is unsightly in areas that are as pristine as the monuments and memorials,” Litterst said. Not to mention, he said, the “health effects” and “what [overflowing trash cans] can draw in terms of pests, insects and rodents.”
The trash problem is especially acute in Washington where so many of the monuments and malls are open, making it especially hard for officials to keep people from using them.
“D.C. is an urban area,” Litterst said. “We can’t fence it and close it off. At Yellowstone, you close the gates and nobody can get in.”
“We haven’t fenced off the Mall,” he said. “People are back and forth through it. I would expect the trash cans are going to keep filling up.”
In 1995 when the federal government shut down, the furlough lasted 28 days, and the trash and grass weren’t as much of a problem, according to Litterst, because the shutdown happened in the winter months — November, December and January.
“There were considerably less people out and around,” he said, “because of the weather at that time of year.”
But this time, the unseasonably warm fall weather means people are out, and there’s a fair number of visitors in town.
The overflowing trash, Litterst said, is “one of the big tragedies” in the furlough’s impact.
We missed this on Thursday, but it bears posting.
It’s video of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) strategizing between TV appearances.
Neither says anything terribly surprising — Paul thinks the GOP can win by emphasizing its willingness to compromise and the Democrats’ no-negotiation strategy — but it’s a little window into what members say when they don’t think they’re being broadcast.
According to Vice President Biden’s Twitter feed, he phoned the Park Service ranger who was publicly shamed by GOP Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.) on Wednesday.
“I’m proud of you,” VP called to tell the Park Ranger who was chastised by a GOP Rep today at the WWII Memorial.
— Office of VP Biden (@VP) October 3, 2013