House backs pay for furloughed workers, no end to shutdown in sight

House backs pay for furloughed workers, no end to shutdown in sight

By Seth Richardson

House back pay for furloughed workers, no end to shutdown in sight

The House of Representatives came together to compromise on a bill that would pay furloughed federal workers back pay during the government shutdown.

The bill received nearly unanimous support, passing by a vote of 407 to zero with 25 members not voting. The move gave a brief glimmer of relief to an otherwise staunchly divided House, in which either side has refused to negotiate.


“Federal workers keep the nation safe and secure and provide vital services that support the economic security of American families,” a press release from The White house said. “The administration appreciates that the Congress is acting promptly to move this bipartisan legislation and looks forward to the bill’s swift passage.”

However, the bill remains stalled in the Senate and little has progressed in terms of negotiating a continuing resolution to fund the government. Neither side has been willing to budge on negotiations over the main caveat – defunding The Affordable Care Act.

President Barack Obama said he was willing to discuss the Republicans’ demands only after they end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. He called on House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on the matter, something Boehner has refused to do.

“The House should hold that vote today,” Obama said in a speech to Federal Emergency Management Agency. “If Republicans and speaker Boehner are saying there are not enough votes, then they should prove it. Let the bill go to the floor and let’s see what happens. Just vote. Let every member of Congress vote their conscience and they can determine whether or not they want to shut the government down.”

Boehner said in a speech giving up on the stalemate now would be tantamount to an “unconditional surrender” by House Republicans.

“The long and short of it is: There’s going to be a negotiation,” he said. “The only way this is going to happen is to in fact have a conversation. … The conversation ought to start today.”

Meanwhile, Congress’ approval ratings continue to remain at historically low levels. A Gallup poll released Monday showed an approval rating of only 11 percent with a disapproval rating of 85 percent. A Rasmussen poll released Saturday showed only 33 percent of Americans polled consider the Republican Party to be mainstream, while 50 percent of those polled considered the party extreme.


The unpopularity of the shutdown has led some Republicans to reach across party lines in the hopes of brining an end to the fiasco. Rep. Paul Ryan wrote in the Wall Street Journal it was time to end the shutdown.

“But right now, we need to find common ground,” Ryan said in the column. “We need to open the federal government. We need to pay our bills today – and make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow.”

California bill allows children to have more than two parents

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that would allow children to have more than two legal guardians.

Sen. Mark Leno authored the bill in an attempt to adapt to changing family structures. It is meant to address situations such as when a same-sex couple has a child with someone of the opposite sex and allows three or more parents to share financial and custodial rights.

“Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them,” Leno said to the Los Angeles Times. “It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent.

Wendy Weinhold, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, said the law is a great step forward for the evolving family structure.

“This change in California law is good because it signals realistic change that is pro-family,” she said. “Anything the state can do to recognize that heteronormativity needs challenged and that families are much bigger than the binary limited sense that we thing of with traditional families is important.”

The bill met heavy opposition from traditional-family activists. Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, said the bill is a blow to traditional families and was skeptic of the value it brings to children.

“This is in the long run going to be a mistake,” Dacus said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “The ones who are going to pay the price are not the activists, but it’s going to be children, who will see greater conflict and indecision over matters involving their well-being.”

U.S. now the world leader in petroleum, natural gas production

The U.S. passed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s leader in petroleum and natural gas production, according to the Energy Information Association in a report released Friday.

The U.S. had remained nearly identical in terms of production with Russia over the past four years. Tapping shale rock for oil and gas is credited with pushing the U.S. above Russia in terms of production.

The news is likely to have little effect on the market due to oil being a global commodity. Kevin Sylwester, a professor in economics, said the news could slow the price of oil from rising, but that overseas demand will likely negate any effect of the news.

It could lead to more jobs in America, however Sylwester was more reserved in his assessment.

“Of course the growth of energy production here could mean more jobs,” he said in an email exchange. “But the job gain will be muted if it causes other industries to contract.”

Sylwester said if the growing energy sector causes workers to leave other industries, the net job gain would be far less than speculated.

“So I don’t want to say that drilling for oil and natural gas here in the U.S. is completely good or bad. One can see costs and benefits,” he said. “But I would stress that producing more energy here would not greatly lower the price in the U.S. since it is global demand and global supply that determine the price.”