The big news today is what’s not happening—i.e., there is no indication of any deal in sight to reopen the government this week. In addition, a bill to ensure back pay to hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees appears to be hitting a Senate slowdown. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., raced through the Republican-run House on a 407-0 vote Saturday; supporters had hoped for a similar glide through the Democratic controlled-Senate.
But on Monday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called it “premature” to move ahead with the back pay bill while Democrats were refusing to take up other House-passed measures to selectively restore funding to high-profile agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Park Service, according to an article published on Roll Call’s website.
Rather than pushing the bill quickly through the Senate, Cornyn suggested that the legislation go through the “normal legislative process,” which would mean opening it up to amendments. As the Senate Minority Whip, Cornyn is number two in the Senate GOP’s pecking order, so his position presumably carries some weight.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did not respond to an email asking whether Reid planned to bring the back pay bill up before the full Senate this week. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined comment this morning.
In other news, some 7,000 Veterans Affairs Department employees join the ranks of the furloughed today.
Overall, VA–the second largest government agency–has fared much better than most; of some 332,000 total employees, fewer than 15,000 are subject to furloughs, according to its shutdown contingency plan. Many of the 7,000 sent home today work in regional offices that will now be closed. Something else to keep an eye on is the possibility that–should the shutdown continue into the second half of October–VA benefit checks could be delayed, including payments for disability compensation and GI Bill living stipends, according to the department.
Anything we’re missing in regard to major developments or agency responses to the shutdown? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org