Waving posters and chanting “Free D.C.,” a crowd calling for the government to reopen on the Capitol’s East Front tried to interrupt a Senate Democratic news conference Wednesday.
Thirty-five Democratic lawmakers stood on the Capitol’s steps and reiterated their now-familiar demands to Republicans. While some of the protesters interviewed said they blamed the GOP, and not Democrats, the scene made for an awkward juxtaposition.
At one point, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray walked slowly from the site of the protest at the area known as the Senate Swamp, toward the senators. There was a brief moment of tension, because it was unclear what Gray would say or whether he intended to interrupt, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., smiled at Gray, stretched out his hand, and welcomed him onto the steps.
Leroy Thorpe, a Northwest resident and government social worker who’s lived in Washington since 1980, said he wants to see Congress reopen the government immediately. Others near him nodded in assent. “I think we need to stop the gridlock,” he said. “I think the Republicans are holding the nation hostage and hurting a lot of people.”
Democrats took the opportunity to reject the House’s so-called mini-continuing resolutions and asked for their colleagues to adopt their CR.
“The whole government needs to be open,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
The district’s sole representative in Congress also addressed the crowd of protesters, telling them that if they wanted to speak to lawmakers, they should enter the Capitol or office buildings. “I don’t think I need to tell you all what you need from senators,” Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia told the protesters. “Out here we’re talking to ourselves, but if they hear directly from you, that makes some difference.”
What We're Following See More »
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are threatening to block the spending bill—and prevent the Senate from leaving town—"because it would not extend benefits for retired coal miners for a year or pay for their pension plans. The current version of the bill would extend health benefits for four months. ... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday afternoon moved to end debate on the continuing resolution to fund the government through April 28. But unless Senate Democrats relent, that vote cannot be held until Saturday at 1 a.m. at the earliest, one hour after the current funding measure expires."
The South Korean parliament voted on Friday morning to impeach President Park Geun-hye over charges of corruption, claiming she allowed undue influence to a close confidante of hers. Ms. Park is now suspended as president for 180 days. South Korea's Constitutional Court will hear the case and decide whether to uphold or overturn the impeachment.
Participants in the women's march on Washington the day after inauguration won't have access to the Lincoln Memorial. The National Park Service has "filed documents securing large swaths of the national mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial for the inauguration festivities. None of these spots will be open for protesters."
President Obama on Thursday announced a pay raise for civilian federal employees of 2.1 percent come January 2017. He had said multiple times this year that salaries would go up 1.6 percent, so the Thursday announcement came as a surprise. The change was likely made to match the 2.1 percent increase in salary that members of the military will receive.
The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.