The Washington Post
Politics ⋅ Live Blog

Live updates: The government reopens

October 17, 2013

Federal government workers return to work today after an 11th-hour deal was reached Wednesday to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

Keep checking here for the latest updates on the reopening the government, and the overall impact of the shutdown.

Sign up for ‘The Showdown’ daily newsletter here.

Government shutdown: What’s open, what’s closed

  • Victoria St. Martin
  • ·

Ty Murray has worked at Union Station Shoe Shine for seven years. But during the shutdown, business slowed so much he had time to read the newspaper cover to cover.

“We lost half our daily regulars,” said Murray, as he scrubbed a customer’s black wing-tipped shoes with soap. “It was really thin inside the station.”

Murray, who mostly relies on walk-ins, said business went down by 50 percent during the shutdown. And he said his usual seven-day work week resembled the cash flow of three or four days, costing him thousands of dollars.

David King, a tour bus operator, said he was forced to take detours and stop on side streets for pick-ups because many of the roads he usually takes were closed during the shutdown.

“It was a whole big mess,” King said. “People came here from all around and didn’t get to see what they wanted to see.”

Kabul Singh said the seats of his taxicab carried half as many customers to their destinations during the shutdown. “Today is a little slow but maybe now it will go up,” said Singh as he waited in a taxicab line at Union Station.

The slowdown didn’t impact everyone, though. John Dankah, who has been a taxicab driver for 37 years, said his ridership remained pretty consistent.

  • Lori Aratani
  • ·

At the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the Mall, happy crowds strolled the museum halls. Some admired the brightly colored Breitling Orbiter 3, used in the first nonstop around-the-world balloon flight, while others lined up to try out the museum’s various simulators.

The Horn Family, visiting Washington from Germany, circled the Apollo command module Columbia. Christian Horn quietly explained to his sons, Benjamin, 12, and Maximilian, 14, the module’s history. The boys reached out, touching its thick plastic casing.

The family arrived in D.C. on Tuesday, only to find a city where most of the main attractions had been shuttered. They had seen the headlines while they were in New York, but held out hope that the shutdown would end. They went to Arlington National Cemetery and spent time shopping. 

“The stores were open,” Benjamin said.

They rented bicycles and rode along a largely deserted Mall. They still saw the Lincoln Memorial, though they had to stand behind a fence. When they heard the government would be open for business Thursday — their last day in town — they headed to the Air and Space Museum.

  • Natalie Jennings
  • ·

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was at the center of the deal that finally reopened the government and avoided a debt ceiling calamity. And that made him an even bigger target for his political opponents on the far-right. But beyond a primary challenge, there could be a political upside for McConnell.  PostTV’s Jackie Kucinich explains.

Watch more On Background.

  • Samantha Hogan
  • ·

The manager of Market to Market Fine Foods, an eatery in the Federal Triangle area, said that the shutdown cost the spot thousands of dollars.

Chol Kim said that Market to Market’s 500 to 600 daily customers are mostly federal workers. And with the Environmental Protection Agency nearby, and that agency losing 94 percent of its workers, the impact was severe.

He didn’t have an exact number, but he said it lost thousands of dollars. He also said that a portion of Market to Market’s customers didn’t return Thursday, even though they were back at work.

“I think [business] will [return], but slowly,” said Kim, 33. “I mean, people will have to wait to get their paychecks back.”

  • Natalie Jennings
  • ·

Federal workers are back, but the furlough could have a long-lasting impact on the federal workforce. Federal Diary columnist Joe Davidson talks to On Background’s Reid Wilson about whether top government workers may head for the exits.

  • Samantha Hogan
  • ·

A sense of anxiety remained with Environmental Protection Agency employees as they returned to work, said Bob Talford, who works as an office assistant to EPA chief Gina McCarthy.

“I think most people are glad to be back,” said Talford, 65, who was also furloughed during the 1996 shutdown.

But EPA employees did discuss how the agency might face the same problem when the debt ceiling comes up again in a few short months.

Talford, who plans to retire in July 2015, said the wait was “frustrating.”

The shutdown did give him a preview of what retirement at his home in Alexandria, Va., would be like, but when the time comes he plans to have things lined up to occupy himself. This wait, by comparison, was imposed on him and open-ended — and he isn’t quite sure if he’ll get paid for the furloughed time. 

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said.

  • Anjuman Ali
  • ·

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index reached a record high, while the Nasdaq composite rose 23 points at close on Thursday, a day after a bipartisan Senate agreement that ends the government shutdown, funds agencies through mid-January, and raises the $16.7 trillion debt limit.

The S&P 500 closed at 1,733, up 11 points, or 0.67 percent, beating its previous closing high of 1,725. The Nasdaq composite gained 23 points, or 0.62 percent, to close at 3,863.

But the Dow bucked the trend to drop two points to close at 15,371.

More on the markets via AP.

  • Lori Aratani
  • ·

Terence Puls, a NASA employee from Laurel, Md., spent his first day back after two weeks doing an ordinary but critically important function: helping co-workers absent for 16 days remember their passwords.

Puls, who works in IT support for NASA’s inspector general’s office, said there were more calls than usual to his office. Forgotten passwords topped the list, and other calls related to buggy phones and other systems that went offline because no one was around to keep them in line.

Not glamorous work, certainly, but critical at a time when computers seem to run the world.

“Some people just forgot things,” he said. But, like many other workers, he said it was good to be back.

  • Natalie Jennings
  • ·

The budget resolution laid out a plan for keeping the government funded and the United States current on its bills — for just a couple of months. PostTV’s Jackie Kucinich tells On Background’s Reid Wilson when the next round of budget negotiations begin.

Watch more from On Background here.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·
(Screenshot taken from the panda cam on Thursday morning.)

(Screenshot taken from the panda cam on Thursday morning.)

When the National Zoo’s panda cam flickered back to life on Thursday morning, hundreds of people were already waiting on the Web site for a glimpse of the young cub and its mother. Since that time, a steady stream of people have flocked to the zoo’s site to see the pandas for the first time in weeks.

The cub looked noticeably different than it did in late September, growing to look like a tiny version of her mother.

Head here for the latest on the panda cub and the panda cam.

  • Natalie Jennings
  • ·

Post reporter David Fahrenthold joins On Background guest host Reid Wilson to discuss the unexpected things inserted in lawmakers’ resolution to reopen the government, including benefits to the widow of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and the “Kentucky kickback” that isn’t what it seems.

Watch the full On Background here.

  • Ashley Halsey III
  • ·

As his first day back on the job wound down in NASA headquarters, Dana Mellerio paused to reflect.

“It’s a little surreal and sobering,” said Mellerio, a cybersecurity service executive.

In the final days before the shutdown, he and his colleagues were busy getting their work in order.

“Then the government shut down, which for ‘non-essential’ workers was more like a lockout,” he said. “[We were] restricted from accessing government equipment, e-mail, Websites, or any work-related information. Now in the blink of an eye we’re back at work trying to start back up again cold. It’s like over two weeks of your work life simply went missing — like you didn’t exist.”

  • Chris Cillizza
  • ·

Looking for a clear indicator of the political hit that congressional Republicans took during the shutdown showdown in Washington?

Check out this chart on the generic congressional ballot, a standard poll question that asks people whether they would prefer to see Democrats or Republicans in charge of the House.

More on the chart at The Fix.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

At least in the minds of some twisted cable TV folks…

  • Ezra Klein
  • ·

There’s a lot of confusion this morning about whether the shutdown deal includes an obscure provision that effectively ends the debt-ceiling forever.

The culprit here is “the McConnell mechanism,” a bizarre-but-useful idea Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office came up with in 2011. McConnell correctly recognized that the problem with raising the debt ceiling is that nobody wants to vote “yes” on it even though a majority of the Congress ultimately needs to vote “yes” on it. It is, in other words, a collective-action problem: Each individual legislator has an incentive to do something that’s disastrous for the country as a whole.

More at Wonkblog.

  • Ashley Halsey III
  • ·

The National Transportation Safety Board comes into the public spotlight briefly in the aftermath of major transportation accidents, but its major work is the unheralded job of piecing together what caused those mishaps and holding hearings on various safety issues that result in recommendations to the White House and Congress.

“Our staffs are arriving back, getting organized and preparing for the days and weeks ahead,” said Kelly Nantel, the NTSB’s chief spokesman. “Directors are meeting with their staffs to discuss the impact of the furlough on active investigations, hearings, and board meeting, and to discuss accidents that occurred during the shutdown and what, if any, response is needed.”

One of those accidents took place Oct. 6 on Metro’s Red Line in downtown Washington. When an apparent fire and explosion sent a 40-foot, one-ton piece of rail flying, it struck and killed a contractor and injured two Metro employees. With its investigators furloughed, the NTSB wasn’t able to join in the investigation.

“Obviously, staff are really happy to be back at work, but now assessing the workload and determining the priority work is the focus for everyone,” Nantel said.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

During President Obama’s remarks Thursday about the budget deal that ended the shutdown and lifted the federal debt limit, one key element jumped out to some individuals listening to the speech: The “bloggers” reference.

Obama was talking about how people need to stop focusing on talking heads, professional activists and lobbyists when he tossed bloggers into the mix. What did he mean? Andrea Peterson ponders this at The Switch.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said in an interview with ABC News on Thursday that he will continue to do whatever is necessary to stop the Affordable Care Act.

“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” Cruz said.

Pressed explicitly on whether he would rule out another shutdown, Cruz deflected and said he didn’t want to game out future debates.

“What I intend to do is continue to stand with the American people working to stop Obamacare,” Cruz said, repeating the phrase when pressed again.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told The Hill on Thursday that the government will not shut down during the next round of budget talks in January.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases estimates of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each month. But according to a paper posted Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the shutdown’s impact on these estimates will linger “for at least seven months.”

That’s because the October CPI will be delayed and could contain possible errors owing to the “rushed conditions” imposed by the shutdown, according to authors Randal Verbrugge and Sara Millington, who work in the bank’s research department. The October data will also be about half the size of a normal sample, they write, which could increase the standard error in the November CPI, which is based on the October data.

It will take another six months for the price index to level out because the BLS doesn’t collect prices on all goods and services each month; it checks on some things every six months, for example, while some other items are checked every other months.

The end result, according to Verbrugge and Millington, is that errors would be removed by the April data collection.

[Link via Catherine Rampell]

Load More
No More Posts
Most Read
The story must be told.
Subscribe to The Washington Post