Some states had more to lose than others from federal shutdown
Virginia stood to take a bigger financial hit from the federal government shutdown than any other state, according to WalletHub a personal and small business finance Website. WalletHub reached that conclusion after analyzing the shutdown's potential impact on all 50 states and the District of Columbia in seven key areas, including federal workers per capita, federal contract dollars per capita and small business lending per capita. By WalletHub's accounting, Virginia ranks 5th in the number of federal workers and 2nd in the amount of federal contract dollars, as well as 2nd in a third category, veterans per capita. Iowa would have taken the smallest financial hit from the shutdown, according to WalletHub's rankings.
BIRD'S EYE VIEW
BOON FOR SOME STATES IN SHUTDOWN/DEBT LIMIT BILL: There are goodies for a few states tucked away in the bill Congress approved last week ending the federal fiscal crisis. For instance, there's a provision raising the limit on the amount the government can spend to upgrade a lock on the Ohio River between Illinois and Kentucky from $775 million to $2.9 billion. And there's language raising the usual $100 million limit on Federal Highway Administration emergency highway aid to $450 million for Colorado. Although the Ohio River lock straddles states represented by two of the most powerful members of the U.S. Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and the chamber's No. 2 Democrat Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), the provision upping the spending limit for the lock's renovation evidently wasn't inserted into the bill to curry the favor of the two lawmakers. President Barack Obama requested the project in his budget this year and it has also been included in House and Senate water bills this year, according to aides of U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California), the leaders of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee with oversight of water projects. "This is not an earmark," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who co-engineered the shutdown/debt limit deal with McConnell. The money for Colorado, meanwhile, is intended to help the state rebuild the 200 miles of roads and 50 brides destroyed by the catastrophic floods there last month. On the whole, though, the 35-page federal spending bill had only a handful of such narrowly targeted provisions, unlike the earmark-filled spending bills of just a few years ago. (ABC NEWS)
FEDERAL FISCAL CRISIS OVER — FOR NOW: Last week, 16 days into the federal government shutdown and only hours away from a possible federal default with potentially global economic repercussions, Congress passed and President Obama signed an agreement ending the fiscal crisis. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced the deal on the Senate floor last Wednesday after the House failed to come up with its own proposal. And the Senate deal's approval was eased when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the tea party-backed Republicans who'd initially forced the government shutdown by bringing the Affordable Care Act into the negotiations over government funding, said he would not use procedural moves to delay a vote. "I have no objections to the timing and the reason is simple," Cruz said. "There's nothing to be gained from delaying this vote one day or two days." The Senate proceeded to pass its bipartisan bill 81 to 18, and the House followed suit a few hours later, with a 285 to 144 vote. The president signed the measure early Thursday. In exchange for the beating they took for their part in the standoff, Republicans gained relatively little: a slight tightening of the income verification requirements for individuals seeking insurance subsidies under the ACA. They also got a promise that bipartisan talks would be held on long-term tax and spending policies, but Obama had said throughout the standoff he was willing to do that once the government was reopened and the debt ceiling raised. Consequently, many Republicans conceded defeat. "We fought the good fight," said Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in an interview with a Cincinnati radio station. "We just didn't win." "Goose egg, nothing, we got nothing," said Representative Thomas H. Massie (R-Kentucky). But some tea-party Republicans were less contrite. "Unfortunately, the Washington establishment is failing to listen to the American people," said Sen. Cruz as he was leaving a meeting of his caucus called to ratify the agreement. U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana), meanwhile, considered the outcome of the two-week standoff an acceptable "stalemate." Republicans failed to delay or defund Obamacare, he said, but Democrats didn't succeed in rolling back the sequestration cuts they oppose either. And U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said Republicans had "lost the battle, but we're going to win the war." It was just that sentiment of never-ending conflict that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) decried last Thursday, saying "fighting has replaced serving the people as the top priority in Washington." "This is a fundamental failure of our political culture," he said in a statement. "If the shutdown had continued and the nation gone into default, the people in need are the ones who would have paid the highest price." With last week's agreement only funding the federal government through mid-January and raising the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, the next battle of the war in Washington could come as soon as early next year. "All this does is delay this fight four months," said U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama). (NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS, YAHOO NEWS, MLIVE.COM)
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
A ROSE BY AN OTHER NAME: There's a terrible crisis in Washington D.C these days. Folks on both sides seem intractable, with no easy answer in sight. And no, we're not talking about the ludicrous shenanigans in Congress. The other big question in DC right now is whether the NFL's Washington franchise should drop its longstanding "Redskins" moniker. It's not a new debate but one that has certainly ratcheted up the rhetoric almost on par with the whole budget/debt/ceiling/Obamacare debate. Now, as the Kansas City Star reports, PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — may have the perfect solution: Washington can keep the name but change the mascot from a depiction of a Native American to a redskin potato! As the group sees it, "When you hear the word 'redskin,' what do you immediately think of? Potatoes, of course!" Oh, if only. But while the Philadelphia Inquirer points out that changing the name would spur gobs of new marketing potential, the idea that team owner Dan Snyder would actually rename the team after a root vegetable really is "half-baked."
— Compiled by RICH EHISEN
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