Originally published on Sat October 5, 2013 2:58 pm
Federal workers who were furloughed by a government shutdown will receive back pay once they return to work, if a bill approved by the House of Representatives Saturday meets Senate approval. The White House has said it favors such a move.
The vote came after the U.S. government began the fifth day of a shutdown that has put 800,000 people out of work. The bill was approved without a vote against it. The Senate is expected to hold its own Saturday session that begins at midday.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Officials are asking for patience from the public in the opening week of state health care exchanges. People across the country were supposed to get the chance to begin signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. But the online system has been overloaded since October 1st when the exchanges opened.
Even at the end of the week, NPR's Kathy Lohr reports that health care assistance in Georgia was still stymied.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The government shutdown upset more than the federal budget. It also disrupted members of Congress in their campaign fundraising. Across Capitol Hill, routine fundraising events are being cancelled. But the political parties and advocacy groups are following an old axiom: There is no time like a crisis to raise cash. NPR's Peter Overby reports.
Nobody says they like the government shutdown. Everyone says they'd like to reach some kind of deal. So, why is a deal so hard to come by? NPR's Senior Washington editor Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks for being with us.
RON ELVING, BYLINE: Pleasure to be with you, Scott.
The shutdown of the U.S. government occurs in the weeks leading to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and it might be an inviting time to look at a book he published in 1956 while in the U.S. Senate: Profiles in Courage.
Kennedy profiled eight politicians of all stripes who crossed party lines or defied the sentiments of their constituents to do what they felt was right — at a cost to their careers. To cite a few chapters:
The Affordable Care Act has been at the center of the budget debate that has shut down the government.
Tea Party Republicans in the House have led the charge to try to repeal or delay Obamacare in exchange for funding the government.
They were cheered for taking on the health law by Tea Party activists across the country, including Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator for the group, Tea Party Patriots. Martin told Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon recently that Congress ignored the will of the people when Obamacare was enacted.
The work that Shaun O'Connell does is required by law, yet now he's sidelined by the government shutdown.
O'Connell reviews disability claims for the Social Security Administration in New York, checking that no one's gaming the system, while ensuring people with legitimate medical problems are compensated properly.
Billions of dollars are at stake with this kind of work, yet O'Connell is considered a nonessential employee for purposes of the partial government shutdown.
Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 6:11 pm
Many of the world's largest radio telescopes, operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, are going inactive — the latest casualty of the government shutdown.
NPR's Geoffrey Brumfiel reports that the NRAO, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and operates radio telescopes in West Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona and even Chile, will be pointing the giant dishes straight up, in the "stow" position.
Not long ago, the government shutdown was all about the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans' attempt to defund it. But in recent days, it seems to have become more about finding some way for House Speaker John Boehner to claim some sort of victory.