The Ramblings of a Mad Man

Posts tagged “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

WW2 Vets Face Arrest For Visiting Their Memorial

This is an outrage!

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An “Honor Flight” (the charity that brings World War II vets to visit their memorials in Washington, DC for free) is planning on bringing World War II vets to visit their memorial in Washington this weekend. But with the government shutdown, not only is the trip being threatened with cancellation, but the government is threatening to ARREST any vet who tries to enter the memorial! This is after the fact that on Monday, October 1st, World War II vets knocked down barriers blocking the WW2 memorial so they could visit it, which was “closed” because of the government shutdown. Nevermind that this memorial is outdoors and never, ever has barriers around it – so why the need now?

Honor Flight flys veterans to visit their memorials in Washington D.C. free of charge so they can see them. Most of these vets from the greatest generation have never seen the memorials built in their honor for saving the world from Nazi Germany and global tyranny.

Northwest Ohio Honor Flight President Lee Armstrong said, ”We will make the call this Friday to determine if the flight is still a go, or if we will have to re-schedule.”

When he contacted the parks service, he was told that if the veterans tried to gain access to the memorial, they would face arrest. “I said, are you kidding me? You’re going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t be there. She said, ‘That’s correct sir.’” said Armstrong.

When he asked for the parks service members name, the quickly hung up the phone.

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TOLEDO – In and around the Glass City, affects of the government shutdown can be seen at our museums, monuments, and national parks. The gates are closed and locked, denying access completely to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Transportation Safety Administration employees were still working at Toledo Express Airport on Monday, but when WNWO called the TSA to find out if they would be affected, there was a message that said the public relations representative did not have access to her voicemail or email due to the government shutdown.

A letter from Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s (D-OH 9) office reads,”…only services deemed essential for the safety of human life and protection of property will be continued.”

Yet, for a group of World War II veterans visiting the national memorial in Washington D.C., an all expense paid trip which is called an ”Honor Flight,” the shutdown was not stopping them from seeing the tribute that was inspired by them.

“It just goes to show you why we won World War II,” says Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio President Lee Armstrong.

Many elderly veterans, some in wheelchairs, broke through the barriers set up around the memorial, as police, park service employees, and tourists looked on. “The Germans and the Japanese couldn’t contain us. They weren’t going to let barriers contain them today. They wanted to see their memorial,” says Armstrong.

Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio has a trip scheduled to depart from Toledo next Wednesday, October 9.

“We will make the call this Friday to determine if the flight is still a go, or if we will have to re-schedule,” Armstrong explains.

He says they are considering going ahead with the trip even if the government is still on shutdown, but when he called the parks service, he was told they would face arrest. “I said, are you kidding me? You’re going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t be there. She said, ‘That’s correct sir.’”

When Armstrong asked for her name, he says she did not give it to him and then promptly hung up the phone.

99% of veterans on Honor Flights have never had the opportunity to see the memorial that is devoted to their service.

Through October, the are over 35,000 veterans scheduled to visit the site, more than 900 in the next five days alone.

It may all be waiting in limbo if the government can’t complete their job.

Read More from WNWO

- See more at: http://americanmilitarynews.com/2013/10/ww2-vets-face-arrest-for-visiting-their-memorial/#sthash.3AHX13Kk.dpuf

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WWII veterans storm D.C. memorial closed by government shutdown

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WASHINGTON — Wheelchair-bound elderly veterans pushed aside barricades to tour the World War II Memorial Tuesday morning, in defiance of the government shutdown which closed all of the memorials in the nation’s capital.

The four bus loads of veterans — visiting from Mississippi as part of a once-in-a-lifetime Honor Flight tour — ignored National Park Police instructions not to enter the site as lawmakers and tourists cheered them on.

“We didn’t come this far not to get in,” one veteran proclaimed.

The scene was both emotional and comical at once. After it was clear they had lost control of the situation, Park Police officials stood aside, telling press that they had “asked for guidance on how to respond” to the breach of security.

As 80-something veterans slowly walked around the massive war memorial, Park Police stood quietly to the side, advising other tourists that the site was technically still closed. But they made no moves to stop the wishes of the war heroes.

The memorial was closed because of the government shutdown that started 11 hours earlier, after lawmakers failed to pass a temporary budget plan to keep nonessential federal programs operating. Republicans and Democrats have been stalled in budget fight for weeks, mostly over legislative add-ons dealing with the new healthcare law.

As a result, more than 800,000 federal employees were furloughed Tuesday, set to return only after Congress reaches a compromise. National parks and federal buildings were closed down. And the WWII Memorial — along with the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and much of the rest of the Capitol — were barricaded, to keep tourists away.

Several Republican lawmakers were on hand to greet the Mississippi Honor Flight veterans at the memorial on Tuesday and nodded thoughtfully as the greatest generation representatives voiced their displeasure at being turned away from their own memorial.

Organizers said the trip took months of planning and nearly $100,000 in donations for airfare, food and buses. A dozen more are scheduled in the next week.

“It’s great to be here, but it’s really disappointing that we can’t get closer to see it,” said Gene Tolley, a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Pacific during the war. “I came through the city back in high school, but I was looking forward to coming back and seeing this.”

He got his wish.

As Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, distracted a Park Police representative, other lawmakers and their staff helped topple the metal fences. A bagpiper on hand for the event led the men past the crowd and into the heart of the memorial, attracting a large, applauding crowd.

“This just means so much to me,” said Alex “Lou” Pitalo, an Army vet who also served in the Pacific during WWII. “I waited 70 years to get a welcome like this. And to get to see this and to have all those people clapping … I’m just so happy. This was amazing.”

Officials from the Honor Flight network, which organized the tour, said they have advised upcoming trip planners that the memorials will not be open to the public, and to plan accordingly.

Meanwhile, at press time, Park Police said they were still reviewing how to handle similar problems in the future, since they still have no indication when the government shutdown will be resolved.

From Stars & Stripes

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Obama to sign military pay bill

By AUSTIN WRIGHT | 9/30/13 5:35 PM EDT Updated: 10/1/13 1:13 AM EDT
President Barack Obama plans to sign a last-minute bill authorizing paychecks for troops and some Defense Department workers and contractors if the government shuts down, the White House said Monday.

The House-passed bill to ensure the military is paid was approved without dissent in the Senate on Monday — a rare bipartisan agreement as Congress stumbled toward midnight when the fiscal year ends and current appropriations expire.

The measure would also ensure continued pay for civilian employees of the Defense Department and Pentagon contractors whom Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel determines “are providing support to members of the Armed Forces.”

It was unclear Monday evening how Hagel might apply that authority — whether he would spare only a few civilians and contractors from furloughs, or large numbers of them. A Pentagon spokesman said he could not comment on “pending legislation.”

The spokesman restated the Pentagon’s position that “there is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and we hope that Congress will work with the administration to complete a continuing resolution to fund critical government functions prior to Oct. 1.”

Put forward by House Republicans, the troop-pay bill is considered good politics for the GOP, since analysts suggest the party could bear the brunt of the blame for any government disruption.

Following the bill’s passage, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took to the Senate floor to offer Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a backhanded compliment, praising the Nevada Democrat for not holding pay for service members “hostage.”

“The soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines who risk their lives for this nation should not have their paychecks held hostage to any government shutdown in Washington,” said Cruz, who has led the charge in urging his fellow conservatives to demand that any bill to fund the government past Monday include provisions delaying Obamacare.

Democrats, meanwhile, said the bill to fund the troops wouldn’t make a government shutdown any more palatable — and insisted they hadn’t given up any leverage by easing some of the potential pain for the military.

“There’s no shortage of pain here,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.).

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), another member of the Armed Services Committee, agreed. “It’s important to the country that we show support for the troops,” she said, “but there’s still going to be pain out there.”

“I don’t think it makes it easier for the Republicans to shut down the government over us not agreeing to repeal Obamacare after we had an election last November that decided it,” McCaskill said.

And Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, noted the bill was no cure-all for the Defense Department. “There will be many aspects of the military, of DoD, that won’t get paid,” she said.

On Friday, Pentagon officials described the potential effects of a shutdown on the military, saying pay for service members could be delayed and many civilian employees would be furloughed, potentially losing out on their pay entirely.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/government-shutdown-senate-sends-obama-military-pay-bill-97582.html#ixzz2gSWDr9iE

It’s all smoke and mirrors, boys and girls. The Republicans knew that our pay shouldn’t be held hostage with a shutdown, and the Dems wanted a way to pin all the blame on the GOP. We are not fooled one bit by this. Yes, those of us in uniform will breathe a sigh of relief, but that doesn’t mean that we are drinking the Liberal kool-aid.


Press Release of Senator Cruz: Sen. Ted Cruz to donate salary to charity if Harry Reid forces government shutdown

Monday, September 30, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC — Today U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced his intention to donate his salary to charity for each day Majority Leader Harry Reid forces a government shutdown:

“Harry Reid should not force a government shutdown. I hope that Reid stops refusing to negotiate and works with the House to avoid a government shutdown, and, at the same time, prevent the enormous harms that Obamacare is inflicting on the American people.

“If, however, Harry Reid forces a government shutdown, I intend to donate my salary to charity for each day the government is shut down. Elected leaders should not be treated better than the American people, which is precisely why hardworking Americans deserve the same Obamacare exception that President Obama has already granted Members of Congress.”

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If the US government shuts down: what services would be affected?

If Congress fails to reach an agreement to avert a shutdown, 800,000 federal employees could see paychecks jeopardised
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About half of the Defense Department’s civilian employees would be furloughed in case of a shutdown. Photograph: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

The increasingly likely shutdown of the US government could have far-reaching effects throughout the US. If Congress fails to reach an agreement to avert a shutdown by midnight ET Monday, some services – mail delivery, Social Security and Medicare benefits – would not be affected. Others, like national parks and routine safety inspections of food, would be curtailed as the majority of federal employees tasked with their operation would be furloughed.

A look at how a shutdown could affect other services across the federal government:

Federal workers:

About 800,000 federal employees could see their paychecks jeopardised. Already hit hard by several unpaid furlough days caused by sequestration this year some workers have begun lobbying to receive back pay in the event of a shutdown. While Congress agreed to retroactively pay them during previous shutdowns, the fractured nature of this Congress makes such a step unlikely.

US military

The military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed. The US House proposal to delay Obamacare for a year – passed early Sunday morning but almost certain will be killed in the Senate – included a provision to ensure troops’ paychecks continue.

About half of the Defense Department’s civilian employees would be furloughed.

Science

Nasa will furlough almost all of its employees, though it will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space Station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center would continue to track storms.

Travel

Federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and airport screeners would keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints, though some airports have warned of delays at security. Federal inspectors would continue enforcing safety rules.

The State Department would continue processing foreign applications for visas and US applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue to provide services to American citizens.

Courts

Federal courts would continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.

The US supreme court is scheduled to begin its new term on October 7. In previous government shutdowns, it continued to operate as normal.

Mail

Deliveries would continue as usual because the US Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.

District of Columbia

The city, which does not have autonomy over its own budget, briefly flirted with the idea of using the potential shutdown to make a stand when mayor Vince Gray moved to designate all city employees “essential,” thereby avoiding the cuts in services like libraries that were expected. Some District politicians were willing to go so far as to get arrested over the show of defiance, but on Friday the city’s lawyers approved using a $144m contingency fund to make up the difference if the federal government funds dry up.

Homeland security

The majority of the Department of Homeland Security’s employees are expected to stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country’s borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel and other law enforcement agents and officers. US Citizenship and Immigration Services employees would continue to process green card applications.

Veterans services

Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA’s health programs. Veterans would still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators would still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers would still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits.

But those veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board would not issue any decisions during a shutdown.


Press Release of Senator Cruz: Reid Tables Bill to Fund Government, Refuses to Come to Table with Republicans

Contact: press@cruz.senate.gov / (202) 228-7561 Monday, September 30, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) released the following statement regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to block consideration of the House-passed Continuing Resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

“Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had the opportunity this afternoon to avert a government shutdown. Instead, he chose to kill the House’s bill to keep government open, a deliberate act to move towards a government shutdown. This is no surprise. After the House acted Saturday night, Sen. Reid refused to call the Senate back to service, instead leaving senators at home on vacation while a shutdown loomed. And he has apparently advised the President not to meet with House and Senate leaders of both parties. Harry Reid wants a shutdown, because, sadly, Democrats are putting politics above the needs of the American people. The New York Times explained why: because, as the Democrats believe “now is the time to break the power of Tea Party Republicans.”

“This is exactly the kind of DC-based thinking that makes Americans disdain Washington, DC. Democrats need to listen to the people and start working for the millions of Americans who are losing their jobs, wages, and healthcare benefits because of Obamacare. This is not a debate over a government shutdown; it’s a debate about how Obamacare is plaguing our economy. I will continue working to make sure the government stays open and Americans receive the same benefits as giant corporations and Congress under Obamacare. Until then, I hope the American people will continue to speak out against this disastrous, train wreck of a law and make DC listen.”

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Countdown to Shutdown

 


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