White House preparing for government shutdown as House Republicans lack a viable endgame for funding

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is surrounded by reporters looking for updates on plans to fund the government and avert a shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. (AP)
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is surrounded by reporters looking for updates on plans to fund the government and avert a shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 23 September 2023
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White House preparing for government shutdown as House Republicans lack a viable endgame for funding

White House preparing for government shutdown as House Republicans lack a viable endgame for funding
  • McCarthy signaled his preference for avoiding a closure, but a hard-right flank of his House majority has effectively seized control

WASHINGTON: The White House on Friday directed federal agencies to get ready for a shutdown after House Republicans left town for the weekend with no viable plan to keep the government funded and avert politically and economically costly disruption of federal services.
A federal shutdown after Sept. 30 seems all but certain unless Speaker Kevin McCarthy can persuade his rebellious hard-right flank of Republicans to allow Congress to approve a temporary funding measure to prevent closures as talks continue. Instead, he’s launched a much more ambitious plan to try to start passing multiple funding bills once the House returns Tuesday, with just five days to resolve the standoff.
“We got members working, and hopefully we’ll be able to move forward on Tuesday to pass these bills,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at the Capitol.
McCarthy signaled his preference for avoiding a closure, but a hard-right flank of his House majority has effectively seized control. “I still believe if you shut down you’re in a weaker position,” he said.
The standoff with House Republicans over government funding puts at risk a range of activities — including pay for the military and law enforcement personnel, food safety and food aid programs, air travel and passport processing — and could wreck havoc with the US economy.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday that if federal workers go unpaid it would be Republicans’ fault. “Our message is: This doesn’t have to happen,” she said. “They can do their job and keep these vital programs continuing, keeping the government open.”
With the Oct. 1 start of a new fiscal year and no funding in place, the Biden administration’s Office of Management and Budget began to advise federal agencies to review and update their shutdown plans, according to an OMB official. The start of this process suggests that federal employees could be informed next week if they’re to be furloughed.
President Joe Biden has been quick to blame the likely shutdown on House Republicans, who are intent on spending cuts beyond those laid out in a June deal that also suspended the legal cap on the government borrowing’s authority until early 2025.
“They’re back at it again, breaking their commitment, threatening more cuts and threatening to shut down government again,” Biden during a recent speech in suburban Maryland.
McCarthy faces immense pressure for severe spending cuts from a handful of hard-right conservatives in his caucus, essentially halting his ability to lead the chamber. Many on the right flank are aligned with Donald Trump — the Republican front-runner to challenge Biden in the 2024 election. They opposed the budget deal the speaker reached with Biden earlier this year and are trying to dismantle it.
Trump has urged the House Republicans on, pushing them to hold the line against federal spending.
Led by Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the right flank has all but commandeered control of the House debate in a public rebuke to the speaker.
Late Thursday, the hard-right faction pushed McCarthy to consider their idea to shelve plans for a stopgap funding measure, called a continuing resolution, or CR, and instead start bringing up the 12 individual bills needed to fund the government.
The House GOP leadership then announced just that — it would begin processing a package of four bills to fund Defense, Homeland Security, State and Foreign Operations and Agricultural departments, setting up voting for Tuesday when lawmakers return. Work on some bills had been held up by the same conservatives demanding passage now.
“Any progress we are making is in spite of, not due to McCarthy,” Gaetz posted on social media, deriding the speaker for having sent lawmakers home for the weekend. “Pathetic.”
Gaetz and his allies say they want to see the House engage in the hard work of legislating — even if it pushes the country into a shutdown — as they pursue sizable reductions and cuts.
The House Rules Committee was holding a Friday afternoon session to begin preparing those bills, which historically require weeks of floor debate, with hundreds of amendments, but now are slated to be rushed to the floor for next week’s votes. The panel was expected to wrap up its work Saturday.
It’s a capstone to a difficult week for McCarthy who tried, unsuccessfully, to advance a typically popular defense spending bill that was twice defeated in embarrassing floor votes. The speaker seemed to blame the defeat of the bill on fellow lawmakers “who just want to burn the whole place down.”
McCarthy’s top allies, including Rep. Garrett Graves, R-Louisiana, insisted Friday they were still working toward both ends — passing annual spending bills and pushing for the most conservative stopgap CR with border security provisions — in time to prevent a shutdown.
Shutdowns happen when Congress and the president fail to complete a set of 12 spending bills, or fail to approve a temporary measure to keep the government operating. As a result, federal agencies are required to stop all actions deemed non-essential. Since 1976, there have been 22 funding gaps, with 10 of them leading to workers being furloughed.
The last and longest shutdown on record was for 35 days during Trump’s administration, between 2018 and 2019, as he insisted on funding to build a wall along the US southern border that Democrats and some Republicans refused.
Because some agencies already had approved funding, it was a partial closure. The Congressional Budget Office estimated it came at a cost of $3 billion to the US economy. While $3 billion is a lot of money, it was equal to just 0.02 percent of US economic activity in 2019.
There could be costs to parts of the economy and difficulties for individuals.
Military and law enforcement officials would go unpaid during the shutdown. The disaster relief fund of the Federal Emergency Management Agency could be depleted, hurting the victims of wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding.
Clinical trials on new prescription drugs could be delayed. Ten thousand children could lose access to care through Head Start, while environmental and food safety inspections would get backlogged.
Food aid for Americans through the Women, Infants and Children program could be cut off for nearly 7 million pregnant women, mothers, infants and children.
Brian Gardner, chief Washington strategist at the investment bank Stifel, said that air traffic controllers largely continued to work without pay during the previous shutdown. He noted that visa and passport applications would not be processed if the government is closed.
The US Travel Industry Association estimates that the travel sector could lose $140 million daily in a shutdown.
But in a sign of how little damage that 35-day shutdown did to the overall economy, the S&P 500 stock index climbed 11.6 percent during the last government closure.

 


Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world

Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world
Updated 6 sec ago
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Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world

Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world
  • DownDectector, which tracks user-reported disruptions, recorded growing outages in Visa, ADT security and Amazon
  • News outlets in Australia, including the ABC and Sky News, were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels

WELLINGTON: A widespread Microsoft outage was disrupting flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday.
Escalating disruptions continued hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing an issue affecting access to Microsoft 365 apps and services.
The website DownDectector, which tracks user-reported internet outages, recorded growing outages in services at Visa, ADT security and Amazon, and airlines including American Airlines and Delta.
News outlets in Australia reported that airlines, telecommunications providers and banks, and media broadcasters were disrupted as they lost access to computer systems. Some New Zealand banks said they were also offline.
Microsoft 365 posted on X that the company was “working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate impact in a more expedient fashion” and that they were “observing a positive trend in service availability.”
The company did not respond to a request for comment. It did not explain the cause of the outage further.
Meanwhile, major disruptions reported by airlines and airports grew.
In the U.S., the FAA said the airlines United, American, Delta and Allegiant had all been grounded.
Airlines, railways and television stations in the United Kingdom were being disrupted by the computer issues. The budget airline Ryanair, train operators TransPennine Express and Govia Thameslink Railway, as well as broadcaster Sky News are among those affected.
“We’re currently experiencing disruption across the network due to a global third party IT outage which is out of our control,’’ Ryanair said. “We advise all passengers to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their scheduled departure time.”
Widespread problems were reported at Australian airports, where lines grew and some passengers were stranded as online check-in services and self-service booths were disabled. Passengers in Melbourne queued for more than an hour to check in.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport said on its website that the outage was having a “major impact on flights” to and from the busy European hub. The outage came on one of the busiest days of the year for the airport, at the start of many people’s summer vacations.
In Germany, Berlin Airport said Friday morning that “due to a technical fault, there will be delays in check-in.” It said that flights were suspended until 10 a.m. (0800GMT), without giving details, German news agency dpa reported.
At Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, some US-bound flights had posted delays, while others were unaffected.
Australian outages reported on the site included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas, as well as internet and phone providers such as Telstra.
News outlets in Australia — including the ABC and Sky News — were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels, and reported sudden shutdowns of Windows-based computers. Some news anchors broadcast live online from dark offices, in front of computers showing “blue screens of death.”
Shoppers were unable to pay at some supermarkets and stores due to payment system outages.
The New Zealand banks ASB and Kiwibank said their services were down.
An X user posted a screenshot of an alert from the company Crowdstrike that said the company was aware of “reports of crashes on Windows hosts” related to its Falcon Sensor platform. The alert was posted on a password-protected Crowdstrike site and could not be verified. Crowdstrike did not respond to a request for comment.


Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir

Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir
Updated 19 July 2024
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Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir

Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir
  • Kashmir has seen a string of battles between insurgents and Indian security forces in the past two months
  • Five Indian security personnel were killed on Monday during a firefight with gunmen in Doda forest

SRINAGAR, India: Two suspected militants were killed in a firefight with soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir, the defense ministry said Friday, following a spate of attacks in the disputed territory.
The two men were killed on Thursday while trying to cross the de facto frontier that divides the Himalayan region between Pakistan and India.
Troops saw the pair crossing over from the Pakistani side through thick foliage, a defense spokesman said in a statement.
“The infiltrating terrorists were challenged, following which they opened fire leading to an intense firefight,” he said.
Kashmir, particularly its southern Hindu-majority region Jammu, has seen a string of battles between insurgents and Indian security forces in the past two months.
Five Indian security personnel were killed on Monday during a firefight with gunmen in Doda forest.
Last month, nine Indian Hindu pilgrims were killed and dozens more wounded when a gunman opened fire on a bus carrying them from a shrine in Reasi district.
Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947, and each side claims it in full.
Rebel groups have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence or merger with Pakistan, in fighting that has killed tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels.
New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of stoking militancy and espionage to undermine each other, and the nuclear-armed rivals have fought multiple conflicts for control of the region.


Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers

Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers
Updated 5 sec ago
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Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers

Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers
  • ‘Large-scale technical outage’ caused by an issue with a ‘third-party software platform’
  • Airport operator Aena also reported a computer systems ‘incident’ at all Spanish airports

WASHINGTON: Air passengers around the world faced delays, cancellations and problems checking in as airports and airlines were caught up in a massive IT outage that also affected industries ranging from banks to media companies.

The travel industry was among the hardest hit with airports around the world, including Tokyo, Amsterdam, Berlin and several Spanish airports reporting problems with their systems and delays.
International airlines, including Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, warned of problems with their booking systems and other disruptions.

According to an alert sent by Crowdstrike to its clients and reviewed by Reuters, the company’s “Falcon Sensor” software is causing Microsoft Windows to crash and display a blue screen, known informally as the “Blue Screen of Death”.
The alert, which was sent at 0530 GMT on Friday, also shared a manual workaround to rectify the issue.
A Crowdstrike spokesperson did not respond to emails or calls requesting comment.
There was no information to suggest the outage was a cyber security incident, the office of Australia's National Cyber Security Coordinator Michelle McGuinness said in a post on X.
The outages rippled far and wide, wreaking havoc on global computer systems. Microsoft users worldwide, including banks and airlines, reported widespread outages, hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing an issue affecting access to Microsoft 365 apps and services.

The cause, exact nature and scale of the outage was unclear. Microsoft appeared to suggest in its X posts that the situation was improving but escalating outages were still being reported around the world hours later.

The UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority issued a statement, warning Crowdstrike users of a “technical issue” with the “software update.”

“We advise users of the program to hold off on any updates or downloads of CrowdStrike software until the issue is resolved.”

 

Major US air carriers including Delta, United and American Airlines grounded all flights early on Friday over a communication issue, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“All... flights regardless of destination” were grounded due to the “communication issues,” the FAA said in a notice to airlines.

However, The global outage is not being treated as a malicious act, a UK government security source said.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said security experts were not treating it as a cyber-related security issue.

The UK’s largest rail franchise is facing “widespread IT issues”, its four train lines said, warning of possible cancellations.
“We are currently experiencing widespread IT issues across our entire network”, the four lines operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) posted on X.

Other transport systems across the UK faced similar IT issues, with Ryanair experiencing disruption due to “a global third party IT outage”.

British airports including London Luton and Edinburgh warned of longer waiting times for passengers because of the glitch, while Sky News television was temporarily off air.

Passengers at Britain’s Edinburgh Airport were unable to use automated boarding pass scanners, and monitors at security displayed a message saying “server offline”, a Reuters witness reported.

Edinburgh Airport was checking boarding passes manually, the witness said.

A health booking system used by doctors in England was also offline, medical officials said on X on Friday.

Similarly, passengers at Dusseldorf airport are facing disruptions to Eurowings’ check-in and boarding processes due to the malfunction.

Hong Kong Airport Authority said airlines affected by a Microsoft outage have switched to manual check-in and flight operations have not been affected.

Three Indian airlines announced disruptions to their booking systems on Friday, matching widespread technical problems reported by flight operators around the world.

“Our systems are currently impacted by a Microsoft outage,” budget carrier IndiGo said in a post on social media platform X, with airlines Akasa Air and SpiceJet also reporting technical issues.

Air France says it also suffered IT disruption, but not at Paris airports.

Spanish airport operator Aena on Friday also reported a computer systems “incident” at all Spanish airports which may cause flight delays.

“We are working to solve it as soon as possible. Meanwhile, operations are continuing with manual systems,” the airport operator said in a post on X platform.

In Berlin, airport authorities have halted all flights until 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) due to a technical fault, a spokesperson said.

Earlier on Friday, airport operator BER said in a post on social media platform X that check-ins were delayed due to the error.

The spokesperson did not give details about the nature of the problem, which comes amid reports of technical outages affecting some companies around the globe.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, one of Europe’s busiest hubs, is being affected by a global cyber outage, a spokesperson said .

“The outage has an impact on flights flying from and to Schiphol,” he said, adding that it was not yet clear how many flights were affected.

A large-scale outage wrought havoc on IT systems across Australia on Friday, with the country’s national broadcaster, its largest international airport, and a major telecommunications company reporting issues.

Australia’s National Cyber Security Coordinator said the “large-scale technical outage” was caused by an issue with a “third-party software platform.”

National broadcaster ABC said its systems had been crippled by a “major” glitch.

Photos posted online showed large queues forming at Sydney Airport, which said some airline operations and terminal services had been affected.

Some self-checkout terminals at one of the country’s largest supermarket chains displayed error messages.

Telecommunications firm Telstra also said some of its systems had been disrupted.

Major companies report outage

The website DownDectector, which tracks user-reported Internet outages, recorded growing outages in services at Visa, ADT security and Amazon, and airlines including American Airlines and Delta.

Microsoft 365 posted on X that the company was “working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate impact in a more expedient fashion” and that they were “observing a positive trend in service availability.”

The company did not respond to a request for comment. It did not explain the cause of the outage further.

Australian outages reported on the site included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas, as well as Internet and phone providers such as Telstra.

News outlets in Australia — including the ABC and Sky News — were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels, and reported sudden shutdowns of Windows-based computers.

An X user posted a screenshot of an alert from the company Crowdstrike that said the company was aware of “reports of crashes on Windows hosts” related to its Falcon Sensor platform. The alert was posted on a password-protected Crowdstrike site and could not be verified. Crowdstrike did not respond to a request for comment.


Oil tankers on fire off Singapore, crew members rescued

Oil tankers on fire off Singapore, crew members rescued
Updated 19 July 2024
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Oil tankers on fire off Singapore, crew members rescued

Oil tankers on fire off Singapore, crew members rescued
  • Singapore is Asia’s biggest oil trading hub and the world’s largest bunkering port

SINGAPORE: Two large oil tankers were on fire in waters near Singapore, the authorities said on Friday, raising concerns about the environment as well as the impact on operations at the world’s biggest refueling port.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it was alerted to a fire on Friday at 6:15 a.m. (2215 GMT) onboard both a Singapore-flagged tanker, Hafnia Nile, and a Sao Tome and Principe-flagged tanker, Ceres I.
A helicopter had evacuated two crew members to Singapore General Hospital, it said, without elaborating.
In a statement on social media, Singapore Navy said the frigate RSS Supreme had rescued the crews from the vessels and was providing medical assistance. It did not immediately give details.
The vessels were about 55km (34 miles) northeast of the Singaporean island of Pedra Branca on the eastern approach to the Singapore Straits. Photographs released by the Navy showed thick black smoke billowing from one tanker.
The cause of the fires was not immediately clear.
The 74,000 deadweight-tons capacity Panamax tanker Hafnia Nile (IMO 9766217) was carrying about 300,000 barrels of naphtha, according to ship-tracking data from Kpler and LSEG.
It was not immediately clear what fuel Ceres I (IMO 9229439) was carrying. The tanker is a very-large-crude-carrier (VLCC) of 300,000 deadweight-tons capacity and was last marked as carrying Iranian crude between March to April, ship-tracking data showed.
Singapore is Asia’s biggest oil trading hub and the world’s largest bunkering port and surrounding waters are vital trade waterways between Asia and Europe and the Middle East.


US-bound Air India plane makes emergency landing in Russia

US-bound Air India plane makes emergency landing in Russia
Updated 19 July 2024
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US-bound Air India plane makes emergency landing in Russia

US-bound Air India plane makes emergency landing in Russia
  • The Boeing 777 aircraft, carrying 225 passengers and 19 flight crew, made a precautionary landing safely in the Russian region of Siberia at the Krasnoyarsk International Airport

NEW DELHI: An Air India airplane flying from Delhi to San Francisco made an emergency landing in Russia after the crew detected a potential issue in the cargo hold area, the airline said on Friday, its second such incident on the route in just over a year.
Many carriers, including US and European Union airlines, avoid Russian airspace following the war in Ukraine, but Air India uses that route, giving it a flying time and cost advantage on US-bound flights.
The Boeing 777 aircraft, carrying 225 passengers and 19 flight crew, made a precautionary landing safely in the Russian region of Siberia at the Krasnoyarsk International Airport, the airline said in a statement.
It added Air India was “concerned about the passengers and staff and are making every effort possible to operate the ferry flight as soon as possible.”
The airport said the flight’s crew had been moved to hotels, and passengers were in the international departure area, which angered some of those stranded, according to social media posts.
Mayank Gupta, whose mother was on the flight, wrote on X he was “sad and angry” that her medicines and luggage remained on the airplane.
A passenger said on X that people were struggling to get food and water, posting a photo showing some passengers sleeping on the floor inside the airport area.
In another statement on Friday, Air India said representatives from the Indian consulate in Moscow traveled to Krasnoyarsk overnight and “are working with Russian authorities to allow passengers to move to hotels, which have been on standby throughout the night.”
The airport said the plane landed due to an activated smoke detector. Regulatory clearances have been obtained for a relief flight that will depart Mumbai at 11 a.m. India time (0530 GMT) on Friday and ferry the guests out of the airport, Air India said.
Shortly after the incident, Russia’s civil aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, said the aircraft had taxied to a parking spot after landing and there had been no signs of a fire or smoke onboard.
Boeing and a spokesperson for the US State Department deferred to Air India for comment on the incident.
Russia banned many foreign carriers from its airspace in retaliation for Western sanctions over the Ukraine war, and many countries and airlines also banned their planes from crossing over all or part of Russia.
The bans have redrawn air routes and upset business models for some airlines that now need to fly around the world’s largest country. United Airlines canceled many of its non-stop US-India flights due to the issue.
In June 2023, an Air India Boeing plane on the same route was stranded for a day after reporting a technical issue. Passengers on that flight, including US citizens, were housed in makeshift accommodation at Russia’s remote Magadan airport.
Air India sent an aircraft a day later to pick up the stranded passengers.