Federal Government Shutdown

The state of Vermont is getting more than $170 million in federal grants to help set up the state’s new health care exchange, known as Vermont Health Connect.  Almost $3 million is being spent on an education and outreach campaign, developed by a Washington, D.C. public relations firm known as GMMB, and this campaign includes money to buy TV, radio and newspaper ads.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says the current fight over the budget shutdown and debt ceiling is probably the most frustrating time in his 39 years in the U.S. Senate.

Leahy says a plan being developed by Majority leader Harry Reid and Minority leader Mitch McConnell is a reasonable solution to the current stalemate. The plan would reopen the government until Jan. 15, and extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. During this time period, budget negotiations would continue to take place.

After two weeks on the ground, the Vermont Air National Guard’s pilots are taking off once again this week despite the continuing government shutdown.

Capt. Dyana Allen, a spokeswoman for the guard, said the Air National Guard is resuming training operations so their skills don’t fade.

“They have been directed by the Director of Air National Guard that they will fly to maintain readiness levels,” Allen said.

Allen said the Air Guard’s F-16s will be heard over Burlington again by the end of the week.

Shutdown Hurts Vermont's Craft Brewers

Oct 15, 2013
Jon Kalish

The toll the federal shutdown is taking on the economy includes harm to small businesses.

Here in Vermont, breweries and distilleries face delays in opening or in getting federal approval for new products.

From Brattleboro to the Northeast Kingdom craft breweries and distilleries are feeling the impact of the shutdown of a unit of the Treasury Department known as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB.

While news of the government shutdown dominates the headlines, one of the lesser reported stories is the impact the gridlock in Congress is having on farmers. Vermont's largest city has purchased an insurance policy for protection against potential lawsuits in connection with the Burlington airport. The state of Vermont is in line to receive up to $4 million to help reduce future flood damage. Amtrak has reported ridership numbers for two lines in Vermont.

The state’s congressional delegation delivers a strong condemnation of the Republican Party as the cause of the government shutdown; There’s a new effort to keep tech-educated college students from leaving the state after they graduate, and commentator Bill Mares is impressed by urban parks in New York City.

Toby Talbot / AP File Photo

When the government shut down on October 1st, Agency of Human Services Secretary Doug Racine told us there were only a couple weeks of funding for WIC and ReachUP. We'll talk to Secretary Racine about how the shutdown in DC is affecting Vermont. We'll also discuss mental health funding, suicides in prison, and LIHEAP. 

Has the government shutdown affected you directly? Send your comments or questions to vermontedition@vpr.net.

Toby Talbot / AP

The federal government shutdown has delayed a key project in the state’s continuing effort to clean up Lake Champlain.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears said the state’s work with a team of EPA scientists and policy experts was put on hold this month because the federal officials were furloughed.

Nearly 100 TSA agents are not eligible for unemployment benefits during government shutdown; Vermont cities and towns have used federal funds to purchase 30 properties damaged in Tropical Storm Irene and another 67 buyouts are in the pipeline, and the Vermont Supreme Court upholds a lower court ruling on privacy at work.

Vermont Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Scores of federal workers in Vermont deemed “essential” during the government shutdown are working without pay and the state says it can’t pay them unemployment benefits.

According to Gene Richards, the director of aviation for Burlington International Airport, almost 100 Transportation Security Administration officers have been working without pay since the federal government shut down Oct. 1.

AP/ Toby Talbot

While news of the government shutdown dominates the headlines, one of the lesser reported stories is the impact the gridlock in Congress is having on farmers.

Back at the end of September before the shutdown began, an extension of the farm bill expired. As a result, the Milk Income Loss Contract, or MILC program also expired, and left unanswered are questions over what happens to farmers if a new farm bill—and a new MILC contract along with it--isn’t approved by the end of the year.

AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Former NPR Capitol Hill reporter Andrea Seabrook now runs the blog and podcast DecodeDC. She talks with Vermont Edition about what's broken in Washington and how it might be fixed.

AP/Evan Vucci

In a rare joint appearance on VPR’s Vermont Edition, the state’s congressional delegation on Thursday delivered their strongest condemnation to date of the Republican Party as the cause of the government shutdown.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch met with Vermont Edition hosts Bob Kinzel and Jane Lindholm at National Public Radio’s headquarters in Washington. The three all had strong words about Republicans in Congress.

The NRC furloughed more than 90 percent of its employees due to the government shutdown.  One of Vermont’s most successful cheese makers is giving fellow dairy farmers a boost into a competitive market. Gov. Shumlin marking founding of 1,000th captive insurance company in Vermont.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has all but ceased operations as their funds dried up today, forcing the government safety regulator to furlough more than 90 percent of its employees.

In a statement, spokesman Neil Sheehan said the NRC website, including information portals that allow the public to see the status of all nuclear power plants, will be “static after tonight.”

Among the 300 remaining at work are the resident inspectors assigned to each nuclear power plant across the U.S.

Douglas: Shut Down

Oct 8, 2013

For at least the 18th time in the past 4 decades, we’re experiencing a government shutdown because Congress has failed to approve a budget. As a result, all but essential Federal employees are not on the job.

But unless you’re planning a visit to a national park or a burial at Arlington, you may not notice. Our armed forces are still protecting us, airplanes are flying , and Social Security benefits continue to be paid. In fact, when one late-night talk show host asked his audience if anyone was concerned about the shutdown - n o one was.

Vermont officials say that if the federal government shutdown continues, Vermont’s slow economic recovery could suffer. The owner of one of Vermont's industrial wind-power projects is complaining his turbines were ordered to stop sending power to the electric grid during ideal generating conditions while other sources of power were allowed to keep producing electricity. Members of the surgery faculty at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and Fletcher Allen Health Care are helping create new teaching positions at the university.

Gov. Shumlin urges Congress to end the Govt. shutdown, which he says is hurting Vermont’s economic recovery. Congressman Peter Welch working with House Republicans to try and break the Government shutdown stalemate. The Burlington School District is the most diverse in the state. But the district has been criticized for not providing an equal education experience to minority students, especially those who are not native English speakers.

Governor Shumlin says Congress needs to find a solution to shutdown stalemate; A bi-partisan coalition of 80 House members is working to find a solution to end the budget impasse in Washington, and commentator Cheryl Hannah previews the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming term.

Gov. Peter Shumlin spoke about the implications of a lingering government shutdown on Vermonters as Maj. Gen. Steve Cray looked on.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Governor Peter Shumlin and a group of top administration officials say Vermont has the funds to keep vital assistance programs running through the month, but the federal shutdown could mean big trouble if it lasts another week.

Jeb Spaulding, Secretary of Administration, said the state scrambled to get payment up front from as many federal agencies as possible as the shutdown drew near.

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