Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday where she sought to use the symbolism of a historic landmark to draw parallels to a present-day America that is in need of repairing deepening racial and cultural divides.

The Old State Capitol — where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "A house divided" speech in 1858 warning against the ills of slavery and where Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in 2007 — served as the backdrop for Clinton as she spoke of how "America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

1 hour ago

When we meet the heroin dealer called Bone, he has just shot up. He has a lot to say anyway. He tells us about his career--it pretty much tracks the evolution of drug use in America these past ten years or so. He tells us about his rough past. And he tells us about how he died a week ago. He overdosed on his own supply and his friend took his body to the emergency room, then left.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

4 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

A Short History Of Government Shutdowns

Sep 30, 2013
Originally published on September 30, 2013 9:54 am

Drawn-out fights over spending bills are nothing new for Congress. But that's where the fights used to stay: in Congress. The rest of the country didn't have to pay much attention to countdown clocks and all this drama.

"In the '60s and '70s down until 1980, it was not taken that seriously at all," says Charles Tiefer, a former legal adviser to the House of Representatives, who now teaches at the University of Baltimore Law School. In the old days, he says, when lawmakers reached a budget stalemate, the federal workforce just went about its business.

"It was thought that Congress would soon get around to passing the spending bill and there was no point in raising a ruckus while waiting," he says.

That easygoing attitude changed during the last year of President Jimmy Carter's administration. That's when Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti issued a legal opinion saying government work cannot go on until Congress agrees to pay for it.

"They used an obscure statute to say that if any work continued in an agency where there wasn't money, the employees were behaving like illegal volunteers," says Tiefer. "So they not only could shut off the lights and leave, they were obliged to shut off the lights and leave."

Civiletti later issued a second opinion with a less strict interpretation — allowing essential government services to continue in the absence of a spending bill. But even with that exception, the stakes of a legislative standoff had been raised — which could be why lawmakers suddenly got serious about making deals.

In the years leading up to Civiletti's opinion, budget standoffs lasting a week or more were commonplace. But after the opinion, no standoff lasted more than three days until the epic government shutdowns of 1995.

"It was a calculated gamble on the part of the speaker, Newt Gingrich," says Steve Bell, who was a Republican congressional aide. The new Republican majority in Congress decided to push their spending fight with President Clinton to the limit, even if it meant shutting down the government.

"And at first, about half of us thought it was a bad idea and half of us thought it was a good idea," says Bell. "But in the perfect example of groupthink, we talked ourselves into believing that, oh, the president will get blamed and we will be able to get our way."

Bell, who's now with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, says the Gingrich gamble didn't pay off, except for President Clinton.

"The president wasn't blamed," says Bell. And "the amount of money we saved over that government shutdown literally is almost a rounding error. So we went through all of this for almost no savings, net-net, and we successfully re-elected someone that we thought we were supposed to defeat."

As the 1995 shutdowns dragged on, more and more federal employees were called back to work as the definition of what's "essential" gradually expanded. J. David Cox, a Veterans Administration nurse at the time who now heads the American Federation of Government Employees, says that damaged morale, because while federal workers eventually received back pay, they didn't get paychecks during the shutdown itself.

A handicap for lawmakers is that the White House makes the call of which employees are deemed essential and should keep showing up for work. So even though Obamacare has been the main bone of contention in this year's fight, President Obama insists the new health insurance exchanges will open on schedule Tuesday, even if much of the rest of the government shuts down.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, throughout the program this morning, we're reporting on a partial shutdown of the federal government that could happen tonight at midnight. It is looking more and more unlikely that lawmakers will agree on a spending bill to avoid that. With just hours to go, the federal government and its workforce are waiting in limbo. This would be the first time in nearly 18 years that a legislative standoff has idled large parts of the government. NPR's Scott Horsley reports that the stakes were not always this high.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Drawn-out fights over spending bills are nothing new for Congress. But that's where the fights used to stay: in Congress. The rest of the country didn't have to pay much attention to countdown clocks and all this drama.

CHARLES TIEFER: In the '60s and '70s, down until 1980, it was not taken that seriously at all.

HORSLEY: Charles Tiefer is a former legal adviser to the House of Representatives, who now teaches at the University of Baltimore law school. In the old days, he says, when lawmakers reached a budget stalemate, the federal workforce just went about its business.

TIEFER: It was thought that Congress would soon get around to passing the spending bill, and there was no point in raising a ruckus while waiting.

HORSLEY: That easygoing attitude changed during the last year of the Carter administration. That's when Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti issued a legal opinion saying government work cannot go on until Congress agrees to pay for it.

TIEFER: They used an obscure statute to say that if any work continued in an agency where there wasn't money, the employees were behaving like illegal volunteers. And so they not only could shut off the lights and leave, they were obliged to shut off the lights and leave.

HORSLEY: Civiletti later issued a second opinion with a less strict interpretation, allowing essential government services to continue in the absence of a spending bill. But even with that exception, the stakes of a legislative standoff had been raised, which could be why lawmakers suddenly got serious about making deals. In the years leading up to Civiletti's opinion, budget standoffs lasting a week or more were commonplace. But after the opinion, no standoff lasted more than three days until the epic government shutdowns of 1995.

STEVE BELL: It was a calculated gamble on the part of the speaker, Newt Gingrich.

HORSLEY: Steve Bell was a Republican congressional aide.

BELL: And I was part of a group that would go over to his room, which we called the dinosaur room, because he had a big dinosaur head that he had borrowed from the National History Museum, and it was on the end of his desk there in the speaker's conference room.

HORSLEY: It was there the new Republican majority in Congress decided to push their spending fight with President Clinton to the limit, even if it meant shutting down the government.

BELL: And at first, about half of us thought it was a bad idea and half of us thought it was a good idea. But, in the perfect example of groupthink, we talked ourselves into believing that, oh, the president will get blamed and we will be able to get our way.

HORSLEY: Bell, who's now with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, says the Gingrich gamble didn't pay off, except for President Clinton.

BELL: So, we went through all of this for almost no savings, and we successfully reelected someone that we thought we were supposed to defeat.

HORSLEY: As the 1995 shutdowns dragged on, more and more federal employees were called back to work as the definition of what's essential gradually expanded. J. David Cox was a VA nurse at the time. He says while federal workers eventually received back pay, they didn't get paychecks during the shutdown itself.

J. DAVID COX: What company do you know of - if IBM, tomorrow morning, said we're requiring everybody to come to work, and we're expecting you to do the job, but we're not going to pay you on payday, and we don't know when we're going to pay you - tell me about the morale of IBM at that point.

HORSLEY: Today, Cox heads the largest union of federal workers. He joins Tiefer and Bell in saying most shutdowns in the past turned out to be counterproductive. A handicap for lawmakers is that the White House makes the call of which employees are deemed essential and keep showing up for work. So, even though Obamacare has been the main bone of contention in this year's fight, President Obama insists the new health insurance exchanges will open on schedule tomorrow, even if much of the rest of the government shuts down. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.