Government Gets Back to Business, but Effects of the Shutdown Linger

Chris Bickford for The New York TimesGovernment Reopens After Shutdown: National parks, monuments, museums and federal agencies reopened on Thursday after a 16-day shutdown of the government.

Chris Bickford for The New York Times
Government Reopens After Shutdown: National parks, monuments, museums and federal agencies reopened on Thursday after a 16-day shutdown of the government.

By Michael D. Shear, New York Times

WASHINGTON — The United States government sputtered back to life Thursday after President Obama and Congress ended a 16-day shutdown, reopening tourist spots and clearing the way for federal agencies to deliver services and welcome back hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers.

Across the country, the work and play of daily life, stalled for more than two weeks, resumed at federal offices, public parks, research projects and community programs. Museums opened their doors. Federal money for preschool programs started flowing again. Scientists at the South Pole began ramping up their work.

And the National Zoo’s panda cam flickered on again (though a flood of online visitors soon crashed it).

For Shafiqullah Noory, on his first trip to the United States from Afghanistan, the legislative deal came just when he needed it. Sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, admiring the view of the Washington Monument, he said he knew why Abraham Lincoln had been an important leader.

“If you have the unity, you have the prosperity,” he said. “And then everything comes after that.”

In Boston, tourists once again spilled into the Charlestown Navy Yard, the national historic park that contains the Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat. Among them was Dorothy Bank, a retired kindergarten teacher from North Carolina, who was just about to leave Boston for a foliage tour in New England.

“I was hoping it would be open; we didn’t know whether it would be in time,” she said, noting the uncertainty of the legislative fight in Washington. Of the ship, she said, “I like it as a part of history.”

In New York City, office workers poured in and out of the mammoth building at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan, eager to start working — and be paid — again. “Put yourself in that situation,” said Regina Napoli, 60, a legal administrator who had been furloughed from her job with the Social Security Administration. “The bills pile up.”

Washington’s Metro trains were once again packed with federal workers streaming in from suburban Maryland and Virginia, government IDs dangling from lanyards around their necks. Robert Lagana said Thursday morning that he was eager to get back to his job at the International Trade Commission.

“It beats climbing the walls, wondering where your next paycheck is going to be and how you’re going to make your bills,” Mr. Lagana said. “They really need to come up with a law where this never happens again.”

Meanwhile, those arriving at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington were met by none other than Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., being boisterous, as usual. “I brought some muffins!” Mr. Biden said as he arrived at the security desk, greeting employees with handshakes and hugs.

And at the White House, President Obama took a moment to speak directly to federal workers, saying: “Thanks for your service. Welcome back. What you do is important. It matters.”

The government’s top personnel officer announced just before 1 a.m. Thursday that officials should restart normal functions “in a prompt and orderly manner.” Those few words were enough to kick-start the government. A memorandum from officials at the Department of the Interior encouraged returning workers to check their e-mail and voice mail, fill out their timecards and “check on any refrigerators and throw out any perished food.”

But not everything was back to normal immediately. In Chicago, people who had been waiting to visit the Internal Revenue Service office since the shutdown began were still turned away by security. “If you aren’t making a payment, they won’t see you,” said an officer in the lobby, who suggested they try again on Friday.

Cynthia Ellis, a South Side resident, needed to get federal tax documents for a state program that helps pay her mortgage. “I heard the news say all government employees are back to work,” she said, clearly frustrated. “This is bad. This is really bad.”

The agreement extending federal borrowing power, hammered out at the last moment in Washington, paves the way for another series of budget negotiations. Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate vowed to renew their fight for cuts in spending and changes to the Affordable Care Act.

Across the globe, investors shrugged at the decision by United States politicians to end the shutdown. On Wall Street, stocks were mixed in part on reports of disappointing earnings from I.B.M.

At the Capitol, lawmakers immediately began post-shutdown posturing as they braced for another confrontation in the budget negotiations that are set to begin in the days and weeks ahead.

“We’ve got to assure the American people that we are not going to do this again,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

For some people across the country, the political debate remained raw. In Oak Ridge, Tenn., where the shutdown was set to furlough about 3,600 employees at the Y-12 National Security Complex, Dean Russell said he had no plans to do away with the sign he posted at the entrance of his restaurant: “Members of Congress not welcome here.”

Even in deeply conservative Tennessee, Mr. Russell said his edict applied to both parties, who are now barred from the restaurant’s selection of apple, chocolate and coconut fried pies.

“I’m sure the anger will pass, and I’ll take it down,” Mr. Russell said. “But we’ll keep the sign because I’m sure they’ll do something again.”

But others were just happy that the shutdown was over.

At the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, north of Los Angeles, Bonnie Clarfield, a supervisory park ranger, spent Thursday morning taking down the closed signs — 16 of them in all — and cleaning up after vandals who had ripped some of them down and in some cases posted signs of their own.

She found one handwritten sign that read, “Congress Can’t Shut Down the Park,” while some official park signs announcing the closing were strewn in the bushes.

“We had a lot of vandalism of infrastructure,” she said. “People were frustrated, and they were taking it out on the rangers. We were doing our jobs, and they were taking it out on the messengers. I feel great today. No one’s been mad at me.”

Federal officials said the lingering impact of the shutdown should begin to dissipate in the coming days as agencies reopen fully and begin taking stock.

Sean Hennessey, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said 85 furloughed employees were back to work in Boston. He estimated that the city’s national historical sites, which include the navy yard, the Bunker Hill Monument and the downtown Faneuil Hall visitor center, lost about 55,000 visitors because of the shutdown.

The U.S.S. Constitution Museum alone, he said, lost an estimated $7,000 per day.

 

Reporting was contributed by Jess Bidgood from Boston, Alan Blinder from Oak Ridge, Tenn., J. David Goodman from New York, Emmarie Huetteman from Washington, Ian Lovett from Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Steven Yaccino from Chicago.

The Government Shutdown Hits Indian Country Hard, On Many Fronts

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The government shutdown continues into its third week as funds are drying up for many agencies struggling to remain open. Even with an end potentially in sight, the crisis has proven to be good for some areas of Indian country but has been very bad news for most of it.

The shutdown of non-essential government entities like national parks around the country has helped the tourism business for the Hualapai and Navajo Nation. Both tribes offer attractive alternatives to the Grand Canyon, which is closed. As NPR reports, the Hualapai who owns Grand Canyon West, offers a Plexiglas horseshoe walkway tour of the Canyon. The Navajos offer tours of Antelope Canyon – the often-neglected stepchild of the Grand Canyon.

“Tourism is the backbone of the tribe,” Matthew Putesoy, Havasupai vice chairman told NPR. “We really don’t have any other economic development.”

The lack of economic development is a situation that hurts many tribes. “One of the real casualties is our economic development projects,” Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, said in a phone interview with Indian Country Today Media Network. “We are working only on matters posing an imminent risk to life and property. I had a tribe that came in and was ready to close on a loan. The loan just needs a review and signature and we’re not able to do that, so that loan is not being funded yet.”

Washburn also mentioned a tribe waiting for a coal mine project review, and another waiting for a renewable energy project approval. “Everything has come to a screeching halt,” he said.

While the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education are running for the most part, social services are operating at minimal staff, according to Washburn. Social services and tribal assistance for heating are two areas of grave concern in Indian country as the harsh winter season approaches.

A New York Times article on October 13 followed Audrey Costa, a Native in Montana who is wondering where the money for the heat will come from. Costa, a mother of three, “relies on lease payments from the Bureau of Indian Affairs” and has yet to see a check since the shutdown.

Costa lives on the Crow Reservation, one of many impoverished Indian tribes that rely heavily on federal dollars according to The Times. The Crow tribe has continued to operate with a skeleton crew.

Skeleton crews are also operating in South Dakota, particularly the Pine Ridge Reservation, which was just hit with an unexpected blizzard. The storm brought 70-mile-per-hour winds and blinding snow, and trapped at least 60,000 cattle throughout Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota. The exact number of cattle lost on the Pine Ridge Reservation is unknown, as the slim crew continues to search the almost 3,500 square mile reservation. This job was made even tougher by power outages caused by the storm.

RELATED: Entombed in Snow: Up to 100,000 Cattle Perished Where They Stood in Rogue South Dakota Blizzard

On October 11, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) shared stories of tribal families in North Dakota being put in difficult situations during her speech on the Senate floor. North Dakota was also pounded by the recent snowstorm that hit the plains. “The stories that I heard I want to share with this body today, Mr. President, because they are telling stories about how foolish – how foolish and how dangerous – this government shutdown is to many, many, very, very vulnerable families, particularly vulnerable Native American families.” (Most of the tribes in North Dakota are direct service tribes which rely on the BIA for much of the assistance.)

“Because of the shutdown, BIA Law Enforcement at the Spirit Lake Nation is limited to one officer per shift, in charge of patrolling the 252,000 acre reservation,” Heitkamp said. “And because of the shutdown, when the Sisseton-Wahpeton community recently lost a three month old baby, the mother now has been turned away for burial assistance for her child.”

According to a press release from Heitkamp’s office, the majority of the BIA offices – which provide services to more than 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives from more than 500 recognized tribes – is now shuttered. This means funding has been cut off for foster care payments, nutrition programs, and financial assistance for struggling Native families.

According to Washburn, the BIA has roughly 1,600 employees still working while another 2,500 are furloughed. “Everyone of those 2,500 furloughed employees has an important job serving Indian tribes and they aren’t able to do that right now,” Washburn said.

For the Oglala Sioux and its Pine Ridge Reservation, this shuttering will result in the release of prisoners, hundreds of tribal employees furloughed and a suspension in the heating assistance to elderly tribal members according to The Rapid City Journal.

“It is a devastating situation, not a political debate,” Oglala Sioux President Bryan Brewer said in the statement via The Journal. “Our people suffer the worst poverty in the country. It is unthinkable to have to close programs, stop services and turn people out of their jobs. In an area with 80 percent unemployment, furloughs are a humanitarian disaster.”

Like Brewer, Darrin Old Coyote, Crow tribal chairman, does not agree with the way the shutdown is being handled. “They don’t have a clue what’s going on out here,” Coyote said in The Times of politicians in Washington. He was speaking from his office in Crow Agency, which sits in the shadow of the Little Bighorn battlefield, itself closed because of the shutdown. “It is hurting a lot of people.”

“[The shutdown is] going to be more and more damaging the longer it goes,” Washburn told ICTMN. “And the longer and longer it goes on it will be harder for us to ramp back up…

“We are feeling for everyone out there in Indian country.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com//2013/10/16/government-shutdown-hits-indian-country-hard-many-fronts-151766

Pulling Aid Away, Shutdown Deepens Indians’ Distress

 

Rich Addicks for The New York TimesAudrey Costa at home on the Crow reservation in Montana with her grandson Benjamin Costa and her daughter, Beth Dawes, right. Ms. Costa has not received her federal lease payment.

Rich Addicks for The New York Times
Audrey Costa at home on the Crow reservation in Montana with her grandson Benjamin Costa and her daughter, Beth Dawes, right. Ms. Costa has not received her federal lease payment.

By DAN FROSCH

Published: October 13, 2013 Nytimes.com

 

CROW AGENCY, Mont. — Worlds away from Washington, Audrey Costa wondered aloud about keeping her family warm. A mother of three, she relies on lease payments from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on land owned by her family, which can run up to a few hundred dollars a year, to pay for food and electricity. But since the partial shutdown of the federal government began on Oct. 1, Ms. Costa, 41, has not received a check.

 “We’re having such a hard time,” she said outside her tattered clapboard home in this poor prairie town deep in the heart of the Crow reservation. “I don’t know what I’ll do. Just tough it out, I guess.”

Like other largely impoverished Indian tribes that lean heavily on federal dollars, the Crow have been battered by the shutdown.

Some 364 Crow members, more than a third of the tribe’s work force, have been furloughed. A bus service, the only way some Crow are able to travel across their 2.3-million-acre reservation, has been shuttered. A home health care program for sick tribal members has been suspended.

Though the tribe has enough money to keep a skeleton government operating for now, it is running out.

“They don’t have a clue what’s going on out here,” the tribal chairman, Darrin Old Coyote, said of politicians in Washington from his office in Crow Agency, which sits in the shadows of the Little Bighorn battlefield, itself closed because of the shutdown. “It is hurting a lot of people.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which provides a vast sweep of services for more than 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, has kept essential programs, like federal police and firefighting services, running. But it has stopped financing tribal governments and the patchwork of programs and grants that form the thin blanket of support for reservations racked by poverty and other ills.

“You’re already looking at a good number of tribes who are considered the poorest of our nation’s people,” said Jacqueline Pata, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. “When you are dealing with cutting off food supply programs and even nominal payments to tribal members, it creates a dangerous impact immediately.”

The Yurok tribe in Northern California, for example, relies almost solely on federal financing to operate. Its reservation, which spans parts of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, already has an 80 percent unemployment rate, said Susan Masten, the tribal vice chairwoman. With money suddenly unavailable, the tribe has furloughed 60 of its 310 employees, closed its child-care center and halted emergency financial assistance for low-income and older members.

Financing for an environmental program that ensures clean drinking water on the reservation is running low. A second round of furloughs could affect tribal police officers, Ms. Masten said.

“The saddest thing about this is that the federal government has an obligation to the tribes,” she said. “In times like this, where it’s already extremely difficult, any further damage to our budget would be devastating.”

On the reservation of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in northern Minnesota, all nonemergency medical procedures have been placed on hold, said Dave Conner, a tribal official who helps manage the Red Lake’s government services.

The Red Lake were supposed to have received about $1 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs this month to help operate their government, but the money was not released before the shutdown, Mr. Conner said.

The tribe has budgeted enough money to keep the most critical services running until the end of the month.

“This is a poor, rural, isolated reservation,” Mr. Conner said. “A lot of people rely on our services, so there’s a lot of fear right now.”

For some tribes, the pain of the shutdown has been sharpened by federal budget restrictions this year, known as sequestration, that imposed 5 percent cuts to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

Aaron Payment, the chairman of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan, said his tribe had already shut down its H.I.V. prevention program and furloughed employees for its Head Start program for a month because of sequestration.

Now, with nearly $1 million in federal money lost since the shutdown, the tribe is scrambling to shift casino revenue from other programs to keep its government afloat.

“We’re in turmoil right now,” Mr. Payment said. “The impact here is going to be felt by the people who need the services the most.”

Kevin Washburn, assistant secretary for Indian affairs, said the shutdown could have long-term effects on tribes and tribal members. Financial deals and economic programs have been suspended. Environmental reviews of tribal projects will be delayed. And the impact on the thousands of Bureau of Indian Affairs employees who have been furloughed is compounded because many support poor relatives, he said.

“The cushion that tribes might have had to help them get through tough times is gone because of sequestration,” Mr. Washburn said.

In Hardin, Mont., a gritty reservation border town, Presina Grant has been caring for her sister, who broke both of her wrists in a fall. Until recently, Ms. Grant, who is Crow, had been reimbursed $8 an hour as part of the tribe’s health care program.

But after the program was suspended because of the shutdown, Ms. Grant, 43, found herself in a long line of other tribal members applying for food stamps. Her daughter is a high school cross-country runner and craves nutrition. But with money tight, she often must feed her three children frozen food.

“Everyone was just sad — you could just feel it,” Ms. Grant said, recalling the day this month when she collected her final paycheck from the tribe. “People are worried. We’re praying every day.”

Government Shutdown Has Left North Dakota’s Indian Tribes in a State of Emergency

Source: Native News Network

WASHINGTON – US Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D–North Dakota, a member of the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Friday spoke on the Senate floor about how the government shutdown is hurting struggling families across Indian country, and again called for an end to the political games in Congress.

 

During her floor speech, she offered many heart-wrenching examples of how the shutdown is putting too many North Dakota Native families in very difficult situations.

“The government shutdown has left North Dakota’s Indian tribes in a state of emergency,”

said Heitkamp.

US Senator Heitkamp

US Senator Heitkamp speaking on the Senate floor about the impact of the government shutdown on Indian country.

 

“The United States has treaty obligations to the Indian Tribes in this country. And this shutdown poses a threat to the basic services the federal government provides to Native Americans as part of its trust responsibility to tribal nations.”

“Because of the shutdown, BIA Law Enforcement at the Spirit Lake Nation is limited to one officer per shift, in charge of patrolling the 252,000 acre reservation. And because of the shutdown, when the Sisseton-Wahpeton community recently lost a three month old baby, the mother now has been turned away for burial assistance for her child.”

Because of the government shutdown, the vast majority of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) — which provides services to more than 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives from more than 500 recognized tribes — is now shuttered. As a result, federal funding has been cut off for vital services, including foster care payments, nutrition programs, and financial assistance for struggling Native families.

posted October 12, 2013 10:57 am edt

Oglala Sioux says shutdown could lead to furloughs, suspension of aid, prisoner releases

 

Daniel Simmons-Ritchie Journal staff

October 10, 2013

The partial government shutdown will force the Oglala Sioux to release prisoners, furlough hundreds of tribal employees and suspend heating assistance to elderly tribal members still struggling after Friday’s blizzard, the tribe warned Thursday.

While the Oglala Sioux has already said the shutdown would severely impact its members on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the statement is the first time the tribe has officially criticized Congress and fully described the shutdown’s impact.

“It is a devastating situation, not a political debate,” President Bryan Brewer said in the statement. “Our people suffer the worst poverty in the country. It is unthinkable to have to close programs, stop services and turn people out of their jobs. In an area with 80 percent unemployment, furloughs are a humanitarian disaster.”

The shutdown was caused after House Republicans, including U.S. Rep Kristi Noem, R-S.D., declined to pass a resolution to fund the government unless Democrats weakened or delayed parts of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Democrats have refused to make concessions over the law.

The tribe’s statement warned that more than half of the tribe’s programs are affected by the shutdown: a USDA food distribution program would be terminated, a suicide prevention program would be cut, emergency programs for homeless veterans and homeless youths would be suspended and a lack of funding from the Department of Corrections would force the tribe to release prisoners.

In addition, the tribe added, an energy assistance program for low-income people has been cut, which will imperil some of the tribe’s most elderly and vulnerable members who are still recovering from Friday’s blizzard.

The statement said, lastly, that Brewer and other tribal members are in Washington this week to press Congress to reopen the government.

“We need Congress to do its job,” Brewer said. “Fund the government.”

At present there is no clear sign when that might happen. House Republicans have passed a series of bills to reopen certain services, like national parks, but Senate Democrats have rejected those bills, arguing that Republicans should reopen the entirety of the government.

South Dakota’s Republican delegates, Noem and U.S. Sen John Thune, have issued repeated statements this week that those House bills show that Republicans are trying to end the shutdown.

Democrats, including U.S. Sen Tim Johnson, argue that the easiest way to end the shutdown would be for House Republicans to pass a resolution, with no extra policy provisions, that would fully fund the government.

Tribal chairman: Partial shutdown not affecting Jamestown S’Klallam

Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, speaks about the tribe’s self-reliant policies to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, speaks about the tribe’s self-reliant policies to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
Oct 8, 2013

 

SEQUIM –– A philosophy of self-reliance has allowed the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe to withstand the federal government’s partial shutdown and continue to focus on projects for economic development, Tribal Chairman Ron Allen said Tuesday.

“Tribes are subject to the [federal government’s] decisions,” Allen told about 100 people at the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce during its luncheon meeting at SunLand Golf & Country Club.

“We’re doing our job. We’re keeping our doors open.”

Other tribes are cutting services, Allen said, after Congress failed to approve a measure to continue funding federal programs by midnight Oct. 1.

Elwha closed child care

Allen said Lower Elwha Chairwoman Francis Charles told him earlier her tribe was cutting services because of the shutdown.

Charles told the Peninsula Daily News on Tuesday afternoon that the tribe had to shut down its child-care service because the employees who issue actual payments of grants received prior to the shutdown are furloughed.

Other programs will continue, Charles said, but the tribe has cut funding for some programs because of uncertainty about when federal funding will resume.

Need ‘buffer’

“It’s affecting the whole organization,” she said. “We just want to make sure we have a buffer in there if this goes longer than expected.”

Even after the government resumes operation, payments for the tribe’s child-care program may not arrive for months, Charles said.

“Even after they open up, it’s going to take them awhile to get started back up,” she said. “They’re going to be so behind on everything.”

The Jamestown S’Klallam have a diversified economy, Allen said.

“A lot of you look at the casino and say, ‘That’s where it’s coming from,’” Allen told the chamber crowd.

And while 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn employs more than 600 people, Allen said, the tribe also has kept a diverse mix of enterprises in its drive to stay self-reliant.

“S’Klallam means ‘strong people.’ We take that seriously,” he said.

JKT Development, the tribe’s business arm, is thriving in its construction, information technology and other sectors, Allen said.

The Jamestown Family Health Clinic in Sequim also is booming, he said, serving 12,000 patients and looking to expand.

The tribe’s dental clinic at Blyn also is busy, with its four dentists treating patients from as far away as Forks and Port Townsend, Allen said.

He attributed the tribe’s ability to treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid for driving usage at the health and dental clinics.

“We figured out a way to make it work,” he said of taking patients using federal insurance, which reimburses providers at lower rates than private insurers.

Bigger future

Expansion projects remain on the table, as well.

After remodeling the casino earlier this year, Allen said the tribe plans to build a 300-room hotel there and is planning a large conference center at the Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course.

“We need it,” he said. “Our family’s gotten big.”

But, Allen said, the resort, estimated to cost more than $75 million altogether, may take longer to actually see through as banks have tightened their lending practices since the Great Recession.

“The banks just don’t have that kind of money lying around anymore,” he said.

Navajo Nation officials say the tribe’s parks aren’t affected by federal government shutdown

 

Window Rock Mational ParkPhoto source: Wikipedia

Window Rock National Park
Photo source: Wikipedia

   

By Associated Press,

Published: October 1

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation officials say the tribe’s parks aren’t affected by the federal government shutdown.

Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department Manager Martin Begaye announced Tuesday that “all Navajo Nation tribal parks are fully operating and open to the public.”

The Navajo tribal parks are open seven days a week with the exception of Christmas, New Year’s and Thanksgiving.

The parks include Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Four Corners Monument, Bowl Canyon Recreation Area and Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park.

County feels effects of government shutdown

By Jerry Cornfield and Gale Fiege, The Herald

The federal shutdown is starting to be felt in Snohomish County.

Campers on U.S. Forest Service lands are being asked to leave. The Smokey Point Commissary, which serves military families, is planning to shut down on Wednesday. Job training programs could soon be closed.

And students from a Catholic school in Everett who raised money for a year to visit Washington, D.C., may miss many of the sights they had been hoping to see.

Here are some of what is happening around the county.

 

Campers asked to leave

The U.S. Forest Service is closing its recreational facilities in all forests including the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, which includes much of eastern Snohomish County.

Visitors in campgrounds or cabin rentals are being asked to leave. Law enforcement is set to help clear people out, said Renee Bodine, a Forest Service spokeswoman in Everett.

The federal agency also canceled a meeting for the public on Oct. 9 in Everett over a long-range plan on what roads should be left open in the forest.

A big crowd was anticipated at the Everett meeting, the last of a series of open-house events designed to gather public opinion. It will be rescheduled when the federal government reopens, said Bodine, who was furloughed late Monday night, but who worked without pay Tuesday morning to make sure people were notified of changes.

 

Tour sights closed

A group of Everett eighth-graders will experience the effects of the shutdown when they arrive in the nation’s capital Wednesday for a five-day visit.

The 34 students of St. Mary Magdalen School in Everett, who’ve spent more than a year planning and raising money for the trip, scheduled stops at the Lincoln Memorial, Holocaust Museum and other Smithsonian Institute museums. But all of those are closed until there’s a federal budget in place.

They are still very excited, school Principal Bruce Stewart said.

“They are learning more about the United States government as a result,” he said.

Not all of the students’ itinerary will be wrecked by the political turmoil.

They do intend to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, visit the Mount Vernon home of George Washington and attend a mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

 

Job training programs closed

Workforce Snohomish furloughed 33 employees in its administrative office at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The private not-for-profit agency provides an array of education and job training services using federal funds passed on through the state Employment Security Department.

Three career centers, which serve roughly 1,300 residents, will be open for a few days with limited services and staffing then close until the government shutdown ends.

WorkSource Monroe will be available at least through Friday while WorkSource Everett and WorkSource Mountlake Terrace will operate at least until Monday.

They could be open longer. The state Employment Security Department issued a press release Tuesday afternoon indicating money is available to keep the centers open beyond Monday.

However, the WorkSource Youth Center and the resource room at Everett Station for those dislocated from Kimberly-Clark closed Tuesday, according to agency officials.

 

Navy bases send home civilian workers

Naval Station Everett and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station sent home civilian employees this week who work in food service, administrative support and maintenance.

The Smokey Point Commissary, at 13900 45th Ave. NE in Marysville, was open Tuesday, but plans to shut down on Wednesday. The commissary provides low-cost groceries for military families.

Military personnel will still receive paychecks under a bill signed by President Barack Obama this week.

Some civilian employees involved in emergency services and other essential operations will be kept in their jobs, said Navy Chief Petty Officer Daniel Pearson.

Pearson is manning all public affairs operations for Navy Region Northwest.

“We’re filling a lot of shoes right now,” Pearson said.

Full-time active members of the National Guard will not be furloughed, but roughly 1,000 federal technicians, including vehicle and aircraft maintenance, computer technicians and human resources personnel will be.

National Parks shuttered

The National Park Service closed all of its 401 sites, including 10 in Washington state.

They are: Mount Rainier National Park; North Cascades National Park; Olympic National Park; San Juan Island National Historical Park; Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in Seattle; Fort Vancouver National Historic Site; Lake Chelan National Recreation Area; Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area; Ross Lake National Recreation Area; and Whitman Mission National Historic Site.

Eleven recreation areas in Washington overseen by the Bureau of Land Management closed Tuesday. San Juan Islands is the closest location to Snohomish County.

People can continue to drive, bike or hike at parks where access is not controlled by gates or entrance stations.

A total of 67 BLM employees who work in Washington were furloughed.

Spokeswoman Jody Weil said each came to a BLM office in Wenatchee or Spokane to receive their notice and do an “orderly shutdown” before departing.

As for their mood, she said: “I think they are hopeful for an early resolution.”

 

 

Government Shutdown Frustrates Tribal Leaders

Rob Capriccioso, ICTMN

The federal government has a trust responsibility to tribes and their citizens. It is a unique relationship, which means there will be unique – and painful – consequences as a result of the government’s current shutdown, tribal leaders say.

The shutdown, which began at 12:01 a.m. on October 1, occurred because U.S. House Republicans passed several short-term continuing resolution budgets that included provisions to delay and/or defund portions of the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare. Both the Democratic Senate and White House would not agree to those provisions, which set the stage for the first federal shutdown in 17 years.

Tribal leaders, widely tired of political games surrounding the federal budget – as well as the profound impacts of ongoing sequestration – are frustrated, to say the least.

“What is just partisan game playing in Washington, D.C. is a battle for survival in Indian country where many of us barely subsist,” said Edward Thomas, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes. “Many of our 28,000 tribal citizens live at the very edge of survival and depend upon our tribe’s ability, with federal funding, to provide critical human services.

“Any interruption in federal funding, especially for a self-governance tribe like ours without gaming or other substantial economic development, means we must borrow money – from an expensive line of credit we cannot afford – to meet our payroll obligations to child welfare workers, to job trainers, to housing workers, and to natural resource subsistence protection,” Thomas said.

Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, said he was disappointed in Republican House tea party members for insisting on defunding Obamacare as part of the budget process. “’My way or the highway’ is not a way to run the federal government,” Allen said. “Tribal leaders have many frustrations with the federal government, but we try to find ways to make it work. That’s what Congress needs to be doing.”

Allen predicted that the shutdown would be “devastating” for over half of the tribes he estimates do not have gaming or other enterprises to fall back on for funding during a federal shutdown. “So many of us – the majority – of tribes are dependent on federal resources,” he said. “It’s going to be tough for the tribes.”

Dozens of tribal leaders have voiced similar concerns to officials with the Departments of the Interior, Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies that serve large amounts of American Indians, according to federal officials. The White House, heeding that concern, held a teleconference with some tribal leaders on September 30 during which administration officials blamed the House Republicans for the shutdown. Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at Interior, also sent a letter to tribal leaders explaining the department’s contingency plan.

The House’s attempt to tie a suspension of Obamacare to a budget bill is unpopular with tribal leaders, as many tend to support the law, since it includes provisions to support the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. If Republicans had their way, a new way to support that Indian health-focused part of the law would be necessary unless lawmakers agreed they no longer wanted to focus on improving Indian health via that law. Republicans will not have their way, however, as Obamacare is the crown jewel of Barack Obama’s presidency to date, and Democrats have been trying to pass universal healthcare since Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.

The real impact on tribes will depend on how long the government is shuttered. It will stay closed until the House Republicans and Senate Democrats can agree on a plan to fund it.

Congress and the president will still be paid during the shutdown.

Public opinion to date is largely against the House Republican position, yet many tea party GOPers, over objections of more moderate Republicans, continue to favor a budget bill that ties Obamacare to it. They have made the case that Obamacare, which goes in effect October 1, is too costly, so they believe it is worth delaying. But Obamacare is intended to reduce health-care costs for individuals and the country, Democrats have countered. And even with the shutdown, Obamacare will still be implemented.

Ironically, the most recent continuing resolution that has passed both the House and Senate thus far – excluding the Obamacare portions – is good for Indian country in that it does not include provisions pushed by the White House Office of Management and Budget that would limit the federal government’s payment of contract support costs to tribes. “That’s encouraging,” Allen said, noting that the White House proposal to cap tribal contract support costs was originally included in the Senate continuing resolution, but faced with widespread tribal opposition, it was withdrawn by Senate leadership. “We have some key people who are supportive of keeping it out.”

RELATED: White House Trying to Cheat Tribes on Health Costs

Tribal advocates are widely hopeful that once a long-term budget is agreed on – however long that takes – funding for tribal contract support costs will be included without a cap, despite lingering White House opposition to paying its tribal bills.

Despite progress on the contract support cost front, the continuing resolution supported by the House, Senate and White House maintains funding for Indian country at a sequestered level, which means programs that support tribes continue to face dramatic cuts. A joint decision by Congress and the White House, first made in 2011 and carried out on March 1 of this year, allowed an across-the-board 9 percent cut to all non-exempt domestic federal programs (and a 13 percent cut for Defense accounts). This sequester has dramatically harmed Indian-focused funding, and tribal leaders across the nation have claimed it is a major violation of the trust responsibility relationship the federal government is supposed to have with American Indians, as called for in historic treaties, the U.S. Constitution and contemporary American policy.

“The tribes would rather their budgets be exempt from this stuff,” Allen said. “But the political ability for that to happen is next to nil. The new options that people are considering is pushing for two years or longer forward funding for Indian health programs and essential government services, like some programs for veterans.”

Tribal leaders have been pushing hard to get sequestration on Indian programs removed, Allen noted, but the White House has said that it is not going to protect any programs. When asked by tribal leaders if tribes could be exempted from sequestration given the Obama administration’s stated belief in federal-tribal trust responsibility, Charlie Galbraith, the Associate Director for Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, said at a February gathering of the United South and Eastern Tribes, “That’s just not going to happen. We have the entire military machine, every lobbyist, every contractor, trying to exempt the military provision—the president is not going to cut this off piecemeal. We need a comprehensive solution that is going to address the real problem here.”

RELATED: A Miscalculation on the Sequester Has Already Harmed Indian Health

Beyond Obamacare, contract support costs and sequestration, the immediate impact of the shutdown will be on the federal workforce, and that impact will soon trickle to Indian country. Overall, approximately 800,000 non-essential government employees are expected to be furloughed.

At the U.S. Department of the Interior, 2,860 of 8,143 employees focused on Indian affairs will be laid off during this shutdown. At the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) alone, the following programs will cease, according to the DOI.gov/shutdown website: management and protection of trust assets such as lease compliance and real estate transactions; federal oversight on environmental assessments, archeological clearances, and endangered species compliance; management of oil and gas leasing and compliance; timber harvest and other natural resource management operations; tribal government related activities; payment of financial assistance to needy individuals, and to vendors providing foster care and residential care for children and adults; and disbursement of tribal funds for tribal operations including responding to tribal government request.

The situation is less dire at Interior for Indian affairs cutbacks than it had been during previous shutdowns in the 1990s, Interior officials said, because they have since implemented a forward-funding plan in the areas of education and transportation, which will keep the employees in those areas working. There is also a comparatively larger law enforcement staff that will remain on duty through the shutdown, and power and irrigation employees will be able to continue working to deliver power and water to tribal communities because their salaries are generated from collections, not appropriated funds.

Employees at the Indian Health Service (IHS), which provides direct health service to tribal citizens, will be largely unaffected by the shutdown. Under Department of Health and Service’s shutdown plan, IHS will continue to provide direct clinical health care services as well as referrals for contracted services that cannot be provided through IHS clinics. On the negative side, “IHS would be unable to provide funding to Tribes and Urban Indian health programs, and would not perform national policy development and issuance, oversight, and other functions, except those necessary to meet the immediate needs of the patients, medical staff, and medical facilities,” according to a plan released by the agency.

Chris Stearns, a Navajo lawyer with Hobbs Straus, said the current shutdown is another hit to the relationship between the federal government and tribes. “The trust responsibility, and the right to federal services, which Indian country has already paid for with its lands, will be diminished,” he said of the current situation. He should know, having worked on Capitol Hill during the government shutdowns of the mid-1990s, which saw thousands of BIA employees laid off, and lease payments to tribes and individuals delayed.

Now, like a bad dream, it’s happening all over again.

“Perhaps it might be fair, if during a shutdown, Indian tribes got to take back our lands in lieu of payments,” Stearns said.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/10/01/government-shutdown-frustrates-tribal-leaders-151517

Senate leaders say Wash. budget deal reached

Mike Baker and Rachel La Corte, Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Leaders in the Washington state Senate said Wednesday that lawmakers have agreed to the framework of a new budget to avert a government shutdown, but counterparts in the House cautioned that no final accord had been reached.

Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette told her colleagues in an email that the Senate and House had “reached an agreement” on the budget. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom backed away from that language a bit, saying that negotiators have settled on the major components of the budget, allowing staff to go through the process of officially writing it.

Tom expects lawmakers will be able to vote on the spending plan Thursday or early Friday.

Democratic Rep. Reuven Carlyle agreed that a budget framework had been reached but that there was work to do.

“We have some remaining issues to address,” the Seattle Democrat said. “And they’re legitimate. But they’re solvable.”

Tom acknowledged that all the details of the budget had not been finalized, but he said the lingering issues would not hold up the process.

David Postman, spokesman for Gov. Jay Inslee, said the governor has not been told of any agreement.

“We believe we are close, but as of now there is more work to be done. I’ll take it as a good sign that the Senate is anxious to make an announcement, but it is premature for anyone to say at this point that a deal has been struck,” Postman said in a statement.

Negotiators have been squabbling for weeks over the budget in hopes of reaching a final compromise.

One of the lingering places of disagreement surrounded questions about how much fish Washington residents consume – and the subsequent impact on water quality standards. The state has been exploring new water quality rules that are influenced by how much fish Washington residents eat, but the Senate has proposed a larger study that could put the rulemaking process on hold.

Tom said he wants the study to pass, since Boeing is concerned about the impact of the fish consumption numbers. But he said the Senate would still pass the budget even if the study wasn’t funded.

Much of Washington state government will be shut down Monday if the state doesn’t have a new spending plan by then. More than 25,000 workers would be temporarily laid off and some 34 agencies would completely cease operations.

Inslee met with cabinet members Wednesday afternoon to discuss contingency plans in the case of a government shutdown. Inslee’s chief of staff, Mary Alice Heuschel, said the process has been challenging for agency leaders and that the process is intensifying as the possible shutdown gets closer.

“There’s a tremendous concern that this will occur,” Heuschel said.

The state is beginning to send out notifications to tens of thousands of people who use state services, including 26,000 people who are state-funded recipients of Medicaid, about 7,000 people who made reservations at state parks during the first week of July and about 1,400 contractors working with the Department of Enterprise Services who would have their contracts suspended.

Lawmakers have been squabbling over the proposed two-year, $33 billion operating budget for weeks. They were unable to complete the budget during their allotted session that ended in April, and they were also unable to do the job during a 30-day special legislative session that ended earlier this month.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/06/26/2654146/fish-study-sidetracks-wash-budget.html?storylink=mrc#storylink=cpy