Tales from the Trail

Obama has budget deal “bonus” for Colorado schoolkids; Boehner bashes Democrats at fund-raiser

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President Barack Obama is getting into a habit of surprising tourists. Over the weekend it was a trip to the Lincoln Memorial, and on Monday he turned up to surprise a group of school children at the White House.

“Not only did things work out, but we figured we’d give you a little bonus,” Obama told the 50 students from Altona Middle School in Colorado. Then he posed for pictures with them and answered a few questions behind the White House. (One of his favorite things about being president is that he has no commute because his office is right next to his house).

The mother of one of the students, Shalini Schane, wrote a letter to Obama on April 6 begging him to find some agreement to keep the government open so that her son could make a class trip to Washington for which his class had been raising money all year.

Schane was with the students and stood in the front row — in jeans and a tank top — as they posed for a picture. Obama, who wore a black suit, shook Schane’s hand and kissed her cheek, telling the kids, “She’s responsible for getting you here.”

Obama had used Schane’s letter in a speech he gave shortly before midnight on Friday when he announced the budget deal. “She asked those of us in Washington to get past our petty grievances and make things right,” he said.

At Lincoln Memorial, Obama again makes point that government is open

President Barack Obama has found the monuments of Washington to be quite the picturesque backdrops for making the point that a government shutdown was averted.

Obama surprised visitors at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday not long after signing a short-term bill to keep the government open. A budget deal was reached shortly before Friday’s midnight deadline. USA/

“Because Congress was able to settle its differences, that’s why this place is open today and everybody’s able to enjoy their visit,” Obama told a crowd gathered at the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. “And that’s the kind of future cooperation I hope we have going forward.”

Obama family trip cancelled over budget deadlock

Add another victim to a looming federal government shutdown – a surprise Obama family outing to Williamsburg in Virginia, which was  postponed on Friday after budget negotiations failed to break their deadlock.

OBAMA/The weekend get-away to the historically preserved 18th century colonial town had been kept under wraps, but was almost immediately in doubt after word of the trip trickled out.

Republicans and Democrats made little headway in budget talks, despite successive summons to the White House by President Barack Obama to move things along, and by Friday afternoon a shutdown looked increasingly unavoidable.

Freebies offered for a shutdown budget

No work, no trash pick-up, no Circulator bus trips around town, but at least the “non-essential” federal employee can eat like a teenager in a buffet line if the federal government shuts down after the clock hits 12 tonight.  FASHION/

Federal and Washington D.C. government services not deemed essential will close if Congress fails to reach a budget deal before funds run out at midnight. But local restaurants and bars are offering some compensation — deals and freebies for government workers if Republicans and Democrats fail to reach agreement.

Taylor Gourmet is offering 10 percent off orders at its H St NE location starting at 12:01 a.m. to anyone who presents a government ID and says “Shut it down.” (And check out that photo!)

Who are you calling non-essential? Revelations of a government shutdown

There’s always been a lot of talk about the haves and have-nots.

These days in Washington it’s about the essentials and non-essentials. USA/

The two classes of federal workers would be starkly revealed by a government shutdown if Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement on spending by midnight Friday.

Those deemed to be non-essential, an estimated 800,000 federal workers, would be furloughed if the government shuts down as it did 15 years ago.

Here are some comments from “non-essential” workers on CNNMoney.com and the Huffington Post.

There’s politics happening in Washington, Obama complains

It’s a bit like being surprised there’s gambling in Las Vegas.

Politics in Washington?

OBAMA/President Barack Obama riddled his speech in Pennsylvania with criticism of people (think capital R) who would play politics with important issues like the budget.

“So we’ve agreed to a compromise, but somehow we still don’t have a deal, because some folks are trying to inject politics in what should be a simple debate about how to pay our bills,” Obama said.

“Companies don’t like uncertainty and if they start seeing that suddenly we may have a shutdown of our government, that could halt momentum right when we need to build it up — all because of politics.”

Washington Extra – Playing ball

The White House was clearly relieved to announce that at 6 a.m. GMT NATO took over the ball for running the military operation on Libya. BASEBALL/

Not a minute too soon for members of Congress concerned that the United States could get bogged down in another war. “I sincerely hope that this is not the start of a third elongated conflict,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon said.

Republicans and Democrats say they want to play ball to prevent a government shutdown, but so far have not reached agreement on spending cuts.

U.S. government shutdown bad for courts, judges warn

Nearly all trials and other federal court proceedings might come to a halt if the U.S. government shuts down because Congress cannot agree on the budget, the federal judiciary’s policy-making body warned.

The 27-member group, which is made up of judges from around the country and which meets twice a year, received a report warning of “potentially dire consequences” for the federal judiciary if a funding measure is not adopted soon. USA/

David Sentelle, chief judge of the U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C., told reporters a shutdown would mean court personnel, jurors, pretrial services and others in the judiciary would not get paid.

Obama, lawmakers may lose own paychecks in government shutdown

President Barack Obama and members of Congress may soon have added incentive to reach a budget deal and avert a possible government shutdown: their own six-figure salaries.

OBAMA-SPEECH/The Democratic-led Senate unanimously passed a bill on late Tuesday to deny pay to the president and U.S. lawmakers during government shutdowns. The measure now goes to the Republican-led House for final congressional approval, which would clear the way for Obama to sign it into law.

“If we fail to keep the government operating, which is our basic responsibility, then we don’t deserve a paycheck,” said Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, a chief sponsor of the bill.

Washington Extra – Two weeks

Perhaps the fifth time will be the charm. (Don’t hold your breath).

OBAMA-SPEECH/Looks like legislation to keep the government funded for another two weeks is heading for approval. “I think we’ll have a vote on that in the next 48 hours,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

But then what?

This would be the fifth temporary measure passed by Congress to prevent a government shutdown this fiscal year. The last one is set to expire on Friday.

That’s a half year the government has functioned on continuing resolutions, with another half year to go. (Yes it adds up).