Congressional Democrats are rejecting a call by House Republicans to appoint conferees to work out a budget compromise. The call for a conference came less than an hour before the midnight EDT deadline to prevent a government shutdown. Democrats say they've wanted to negotiate for six months but were continually rebuffed. The House has sent three resolutions to the Senate to fund the government, but all continued provisions to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. As lawmakers squabbled, President Barack Obama urged House Republicans to abandon demands he said were designed to "save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right of their party." He also warned that shutting the government down puts the recovering economy at risk.
Union officials say the Federal Aviation Administration is furloughing nearly 3,000 inspectors at the heart of the agency's safety operations because of Congress' federal budget impasse. The inspectors check to make sure airlines are maintaining their planes safely, conduct inspections at airports of planes and pilots, and visit domestic and foreign repair stations where airlines send planes for major overhauls, among other safety jobs. Professional Aviation Systems Specialists president Mike Perrone said he is outraged the FAA considers the inspectors "as playing anything but a pivotal role in protecting the safety of the American public."
FAA spokeswoman Kristie Greco declined to confirm the inspector furloughs. She noted that nearly 2,500 safety office personnel will be furloughed, but they may return to work incrementally over the next two weeks.
House and Senate Republicans want to end government-provided health care coverage to members of Congress, all their aides, presidential appointees and even the president and vice president. That's the latest GOP condition on averting a government shutdown, and it's not likely to succeed. Senate Democrats have rejected it, and President Barack Obama has issued a veto threat. The proposal would give about 18,000 people a pay cut of as much as $11,000. The government would continue to pay about three-fourths of the health care costs of the other 8 million or so federal employees who get their health insurance from the government. Republican supporters say congressional and executive branch officials should not get special privileges. Opponents say the proposal is an unfair attack on some public servants, while sparing others.