Hurricane watches are now in effect from Grand Isle, La., to Indian Pass, Fla. It’s not yet clear how strong the storm, Hurricane Karen, will become as it moves toward the Gulf Coast. But even though the federal government is shut down, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is getting ready to respond.
In a statement Thursday morning, FEMA said it has begun to recall furloughed employees “necessary to serve functions of the agency that protect life and property.” This is happening in accordance with the agency’s shutdown contingency plan. FEMA’s Hurricane Liaison Team in Miami’s National Hurricane Center was reactivated Thursday morning.
But not every weather agency is up and running. Here is where we would typically give you some information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But its website, NOAA.gov, is currently down due to the shutdown. Ready.gov, a site that helps Americans set up plans for disasters, is not updating during the shutdown.
Despite the shutdown, FEMA is doing more than just getting ready to respond to a possible hurricane. The agency has enough employees on hand to continue its flood-relief efforts in Colorado and its work helping areas of Oklahoma hit by a tornado in May. Part of the reason is that funding for these efforts comes from the Disaster Relief Fund, which isn’t currently affected by the federal government funding lapse.
But FEMA can’t just do everything during a shutdown. On Wednesday, a congressional hearing about the agency’s emergency alert system took place. No one from FEMA was able to attend.
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An aide to Mitt Romney confirmed to the Washington Post that the 2102 GOP nominee will not attend the Republican convention this year. He joins the two living Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as 2008 nominee John McCain in skipping the event. Even among living Republican nominees, that leaves only Bob Dole who could conceivably show up. Dole did say in January that he'd prefer Trump to Ted Cruz, but his age (92) could keep him from attending.
In a long-awaiting new rule, the Food and Drug Administration will ban sale of all tobacco products—including e-cigarettes—to those under 18. The rule takes effect in 90 days. It's part of a larger package of regulations that "gives FDA authority to regulate—but not to ban—all tobacco products, from e-cigarettes to cigars and hookahs." Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill on Wednesday that would bump the legal age to buy all tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Sen. Ben Sasse, the most prominent elected official to declare that he's #NeverTrump, wrote an open letter on Facebook to the "majority of Americans who wonder why the nation that put a man on the moon can’t find a healthy leader who can take us forward together." Calling to mind recent conversations at a Fremont, Neb., Walmart, the senator pitted the presumptive general election battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as such a "terrible choice" that there would be an appetite for another candidate to emerge. In a parenthetical aside to reporters, Sasse ruled himself out. "Such a leader should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months," he wrote. "Therefore he/she likely can’t be an engaged parent with little kids." Meanwhile, his colleague Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted in a private recording obtained by Politico that Trump hurts his reelection chances.
"Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, approved a joint proposal presented by Judicial Watch and the State Department to take the depositions of officials" involved in the setup and use of Hillary Clinton's private email server, "including Cheryl D. Mills, Clinton's former chief of staff, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Clinton, and Bryan Pagliano, a State Department employee who serviced and maintained the server." He said Clinton could be deposed later on, though that may not be necessary.