• Mecklenburg County commissioners voice concerns over shutdown

    By: Nate Stewart


    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Mecklenburg County commissioners recognized that decisions in Washington are affecting residents in Charlotte.

    They have new concerns about how people living in the area could feel the punch if something isn't done soon.

    State officials said last week it will resume issuing benefits to the Women, Infants and Children Program after they were suspended by the government shutdown. County officials have concerns employees with federally funded programs becoming furloughed.

    The county's Work First program, which receives federal dollars, is now a concern of county leaders. Work First provides cash assistance and Medicaid coverage to parents along with short-term training and other services to help them find jobs. Officials said the shutdown has stopped all new applications from being processed.

    "Obviously we are watching these on a daily basis, so the longer the shutdown goes on the more concerned we become," said Brian Francis, spokesperson for the county. "There are some days it comes pretty rapid to us. There are other days we don't hear anything. Like everybody, we are hoping it gets resolved quickly so we don't have to look at some of these measures."

    Right now, the county is in the process of writing a new human resources policy to deal with furloughed employees in these programs.

    The Work First and WIC programs are currently working normally but county officials said that could change if the shutdown is not resolved soon.

    All this is happening as the federal government remains shut down for a 15th day and is closer to reaching its credit limit.

    There was no major progress Tuesday, causing stocks to fall on Wall Street. Investors are worried any deal is in jeopardy of falling apart. The Dow Jones lost 133 points and the NASDAQ dropped 27 points.

    After a flurry of activity this morning, things settled down on Capitol Hill.

    "We're working with our members on a way forward," said House Speaker John Boehner.

    "We've been engaged in productive bipartisan negotiations in the senate," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    The Senate is still working on a bipartisan deal that would reopen the government but only until Jan. 15 and avoid a default by extending the nation's credit limit until Feb. 7.

    But House conservatives said that wouldn't go far enough. So they're pushing once again for a plan that includes tweaks to Obamacare including eliminating health care subsidies for members of Congress and suspending the medical device tax for two years.

    "Now, for reasons that I don't quite understand, the Republicans want to in the House of Representatives, again want to sabotage the bipartisan effort in the Senate and that will hit our economy hard, our global standing as well," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

    The White House issued a familiar warning.

    President Barack Obama said he's not going to pay ransom to the tea party to reopen the government.

    The Senate is now in a holding pattern, as they wait and see what House Republicans do next. But at this point, even House Republicans do not seem to know what that will be.

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    Mecklenburg County commissioners voice concerns over shutdown