House Republicans Get Behind Budget Agreement

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are rallying behind a modest budget pact that promises to bring a temporary halt to budget brinkmanship in Washington and ease automatic budget cuts that would otherwise slam the Pentagon and domestic agencies for a second straight year.

President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats also are praising the measure negotiated with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who has morphed, however briefly, from an uncompromising small-government stalwart into a dealmaker eager to claim a partial victory on the budget.

The deal Ryan negotiated with Senate Democratic counterpart Patty Murray would preserve the bulk of tough agency spending cuts the GOP won in a 2011 showdown with Obama, while reducing the chances of a rerun of the partial government shutdown.

It’s set for a vote Thursday.

David Price Live at 8:30 a.m. — Budget Talks Continue In D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Budget talks continue in D.C. as another deadline approaches, and another deadline has been missed.

Congress had an informal deadline set for a week ago Monday to set the foundation for a budget deal that will help avoid another shutdown January 15, but no agreements were made. One of the lead budget negotiators, Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, told the Washington Times that these discussions should be moving at a faster pace. Some members wanted the formal deadline December 2.

On October 1, a 16-day partial government shutdown began when an agreement on the debt limit—among other things—could not be reached as Republican and Democrat ideas didn’t align.

The half-month shutdown was halted when an extension to January 15 was made, but if a plan is not in place by that date, it all begins again.

U.S. Congressman David Price of North Carolina’s 4th District joins Ron Stutts on the WCHL Tuesday Morning News at 8:32 a.m. to discuss the progress of the talks in Washington.

Price is also currently active on the issue of the Iran interim nuclear agreement. He says he’s opposed to Congress imposing additional sanctions at this time. Tune in for his thoughts on that topic as well.

Governor McCrory Dissatisfied With Govt. Shutdown

CHAPEL HILL – In an interview with Ron Stutts on Friday morning, Governor Pat McCrory expressed dissatisfaction with the 16-day government shutdown.

“I thought it was absolutely ridiculous and got us nowhere,” he said.

McCrory said the shutdown happened because of a lack of discussion between the legislature and the White House, something he thinks should have been addressed much earlier.

“This is where we didn’t have discussions–which we should have–between the White House and the House and the Senate,” McCrory said. ‘They should have gotten a room, locked themselves up and not come out of the room until they came out with a deal.”

The 16-day government shutdown affected many North Carolinians, particularly government employees.

“We had over 3,000 state employees that were furloughed,” McCrory said. “And now its ironic–those that were furloughed will probably still be paid, while other state employees who actually worked didn’t have time off–but you know it just causes nothing but problems.”

In January a similar stalemate may happen between the Democrats and the Republicans in Congress. McCrory says he hopes the two parties can work together to avoid a repeat.

“I request the President to lead that effort,” he says, “and get (the) three leaders–the Senate leader, the House leader, and the President–in a room. And they ought to be doing that right now in preparation for January.”

Click here to listen to the full interview.

Gov. McCrory: Fix Medicaid First, Agree To Disagree, And Against Shutdown

CHAPEL HILL – Your Governor, Pat McCrory, joined Ron Stutts by phone on the WCHL Friday Morning News to talk about Medicaid, Moral Mondays, and the government shutdown.

***Listen to the Interview***

16-Day Government Shutdown Comes To An End

WASHINGTON – Congress has approved and President Barack Obama has signed legislation to avert a U.S. government default on its debts.

The bill also ends a 16-day partial government shutdown, meaning furloughed federal employees are headed back to work, and they’ll be paid for the time they were gone.

The legislation that ends the partial government shutdown and increases the debt limit is only a temporary fix. It funds the government only through Jan. 15 and allows normal borrowing through Feb. 7, or a little longer.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde says it’s “essential to reduce uncertainty” by “raising the debt limit in a more durable manner.”

Gas Prices Drop To Lowest In 2013

CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina’s average gas price has dropped 20 cents since last month, making it the lowest price this year.

The average price per gallon in the state is now $3.27, just two cents lower than the average in the triangle area. Angela Daley, Director of Communications at AAA Carolinas, says that the price change is due to the season.

“Well the biggest factor right now is decreased demand,” Daley says. “After the end of the summer driving season, people aren’t taking those trips anymore, and so in September and October we start to see gas prices come down because demand has decreased.”

Not only has summer ended, but the Gulf coast managed to avoid any serious hurricanes, unlike in previous years.

“The other big factor right now is hurricanes,” Daley says. “We haven’t seen a major hurricane hit the Gulf, and so gas prices have really been coming down since Labor Day.  That’s the one exception that we sometimes do see gas prices go up during September and we did see that last year.”

AAA Carolina’s expects the price to continue to drop until around Thanksgiving.  During heavily traveled holidays the gas prices are likely to stabilize or slightly go up.

The Government shut-down has assisted in lowering gas prices as well since many workers aren’t commuting to jobs.  Daley says that depending on how long the government shut-down lasts, prices may continue to drop.

“Right now, the biggest factor that we’re seeing push gas prices is just overall demand down because summer is over,” Daley says. “But, depending on how long the shut-down lasts, it could push gas prices down even further.”

The last time gas was cheaper in North Carolina was December 26 2012 when the average was $3.26.  Per gallon, prices are highest in Asheville averaging around $3.36, and lowest in Fayettville at $3.21.  North Carolina’s gas prices continue to remain below the national average of $3.35.

WIC Participants Being Improperly Turned Away

ORANGE COUNTY – If you’re enrolled in the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program, Piedmont Health Services Director of Health Support Services Heather Miranda says the vouchers you’ve received are still good despite the government shutdown.

“We’ve gotten reports of some stores that are thinking that the food benefit coupons/vouchers are not good, but they are absolutely good,” Miranda says. “They’re just like a check; the markets should be accepting them.”

Miranda says Piedmont Health and state officials have been trying to get the word out to the stores, but some people are still being turned away.

She says services are still being offered, including certifying and enrolling, providing breast-feeding support and nutrition education, but Piedmont Health—through the WIC program—can’t give out any food from now until the end of the federal government shutdown.

The federal government pays the $200 million budget for the state’s WIC program. Of the 264,000 participants program in the state, there are currently about 5,600 in Orange and Chatham counties.

“These foods are integral to the nutrition and growth for these folks,” Miranda says. “So this program being shut down has an incredible impact on that. Many, many of our families work, but many of them are in great need of food.”

Miranda says Piedmont Health is encouraging people to continue to go in and apply for the program.

“We know that when this shutdown ends, we want to get food benefits to them as soon as possible,” Miranda says.

Miranda says anyone in Orange and Chatham counties with questions can call 919-942-8741.

Poll: GOP Gets The Blame In Shutdown

WASHINGTON – A new poll suggests that Americans are mostly holding Republicans responsible for the partial government shutdown.

Sixty-three percent of those who answered The Associated Press-GfK survey say it’s the GOP’s fault, and half say President Barack Obama and the Democrats are to blame.

But most now disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job.

NC Won’t Issue More WIC Vouchers For October

RALEIGH – A state-run program that gets federal dollars to ensure proper nutrition for pregnant women and their young children won’t issue any vouchers beyond those already given out for October.

Officials say the federal government shutdown is the reason that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children stopped issuing vouchers Tuesday.

About 80 percent of eligible clients have received benefits for October. Officials with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services say they don’t have enough money to issue more vouchers.

DHHS officials say families who don’t get the WIC vouchers can apply for food stamps.

The WIC program provides food vouchers, nutrition education and health care referrals for 264,000 women and children monthly in North Carolina. The federal government pays the program’s $200 million cost.

Government Shutdown – 7 Days and Counting

Senate Dems To Try Passing Debt Ceiling Increase

WASHINGTON – Democrats controlling the Senate are planning to try to pass a stand-alone measure to increase the government’s borrowing cap, challenging Republicans to a filibuster showdown that could unnerve financial markets as the deadline to a first-ever default on U.S. obligations draws closer.

A spokesman says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could unveil the measure as early as today, setting the table for a test vote later in the week.

The measure is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year’s election, which means it will likely permit $1 trillion or more in new borrowing above the current $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.

The development came as a partial shutdown of the government enters its second week with no sign of ending.


Shutdown Takes Its Toll On White House Operations

WASHINGTON – The partial government shutdown is taking its toll on the White House, where about 3 out of 4 staffers are being kept off-duty.

Aides on furlough are barred even from checking the BlackBerrys they usually clutch like worry beads.

Of the 1,701 advisers, assistants, number-crunchers, butlers, chefs and landscapers at the White House normally, fewer than 450 are working. That’s because the rest fall under the unfortunate category of “non-essential.”

President Barack Obama’s aides have strived to maintain a sense of normalcy. But the logistical gymnastics of running the federal government’s nerve center with a skeletal staff have created a sense of mild disarray.

Even the White House switchboard has been set to roll over to a prerecorded message. The message says to call back when the government reopens.