House OK’s furlough back pay

By Pete Kasperowicz – 10/05/13 11:01 AM ET

The House voted unanimously Saturday to retroactively pay back federal workers who are not receiving a paycheck because of the government shutdown.

Members approved the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, H.R. 3223, in a 407-0 vote, with 25 members not voting.

Workers will not be paid until the shutdown — now in its fifth day — ends. About 800,000 workers have been furloughed.

The vote was a rare showing of bipartisanship in a week filled with fighting and finger-pointing over the shutdown, the first in 17 years. The bill drew praise from the White House this week, and the Senate could pass it as early as today when it reconvenes at noon. Continue reading “House OK’s furlough back pay”

Our Democracy Is at Stake

Op-Ed Columnist

Our Democracy Is at Stake

By
Published: October 1, 2013 310 Comments

Josh Haner/The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake.

What we’re seeing here is how three structural changes that have been building in American politics have now, together, reached a tipping point — creating a world in which a small minority in Congress can not only hold up their own party but the whole government. And this is the really scary part: The lawmakers doing this can do so with high confidence that they personally will not be politically punished, and may, in fact, be rewarded. When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled.

This danger was neatly captured by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, when he wrote on Tuesday about the 11th-hour debate in Congress to avert the shutdown. Noting a shameful statement by Speaker John Boehner, Milbank wrote: “Democrats howled about ‘extortion’ and ‘hostage taking,’ which Boehner seemed to confirm when he came to the floor and offered: ‘All the Senate has to do is say ‘yes,’ and the government is funded tomorrow.’ It was the legislative equivalent of saying, ‘Give me the money and nobody gets hurt.’ ” Continue reading “Our Democracy Is at Stake”

Closed for business? Government shutdown history

Closed for business? Government shutdown history

 CONNIE CASS | September 29, 2013 03:39 PM EST |

WASHINGTON — OK, gridlocked politicians we’re used to. But why padlock the Statue of Liberty?

You don’t see other democracies shuttering landmarks and sending civil servants home just because their political parties can’t get along. Belgian civil servants, for example, carried on nicely for a year and a half while their politicians bickered over forming a new government.

The potential for a partial shutdown Tuesday is a quirk of American history. So if you’re bored with blaming House Republicans or President Barack Obama, you can lay some responsibility on the Founding Fathers.

Or blame President Jimmy Carter for his rectitude. Or ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich for his hissy fit over how he got off Air Force One.

A history of government shutdowns, American-style: Continue reading “Closed for business? Government shutdown history”

Cornyn slams door on Mo. Senate race

The Hill Newspaper

Cornyn slams door on Mo. Senate race

By Alexander Bolton – 09/28/12 11:31 AM ET

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) has slammed the door on helping Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) as the gaffe-prone candidate stumbled again.

A day after the executive director of the NRSC issued a statement that appeared to open up the possibility of spending money to help the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, Cornyn bluntly declared the race “unwinnable.”

Cornyn, who’s in charge of winning a GOP majority for the upper chamber, said the committee would not put any money in the race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who was considered the most vulnerable incumbent in the chamber just a few months ago. Continue reading “Cornyn slams door on Mo. Senate race”