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By Kailani Koenig and Ali Vitali

WOODBRIDGE, Virginia — Darryl Floyd was already feeling worried before the government shutdown started.

His wife, Cynthia, is battling cancer and her treatment was happening out of state, in Arkansas. The couple was already planning for increased costs for her medical care — including a second, temporary apartment in Little Rock while she was receiving treatment. That was before Congress and the White House brought the country into a partial government shutdown, and Darryl was furloughed.

“From the beginning of shutdown to now as far as bills now, I think about well, I’m gonna have to get a loan, consolidate bills, it just kind of changes the whole aspect of thought process,” he told NBC News Thursday night at his dining room table.

And that’s just the financial toll.

“It’s a lot of emotions,” he admitted. “It’s stressful sometimes, your blood pressure, your stress, you want the best. And then I worry about my wife, making sure she’s healthy, trying to sacrifice, so it’s just hard on me, [and] her. Ya know, we kinda worry about the bills … if she’s gonna be able to buy medicine or whatever it may be. Will we be able to eat? So, it’s kind of stressful.”

With Darryl’s federal income off the table — he works for the U.S. International Trade Commission as a human resources specialist — Cynthia, a Certified Public Accountant, has been picking up some more work herself.

The day after they talked with NBC, they began the trip to Arkansas where Cynthia will undergo a stem cell transplant. They left Virginia “just hoping that the shutdown ends,” Darryl said. But with the president warning that this could go on for months — or longer — they’re not sure what to expect.

Floyd was one of thousands of people who attended a union-organized rally in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Even with an estimated 80 percent of the federal workforce living outside of the greater D.C. region, the shutdown has ushered in a slew of tough consequences for people across this area.

Bonnie McEwan, an employee at the SEC, told NBC on Thursday that her concerns are twofold: being able to make ends meet and the toll the shutdown is taking on the work she and her colleagues are responsible for. McEwan has still be going to work, but she hasn’t been getting paid.

“I can’t do a lot actually because nobody is there,” she said. Her bills are piling up and her concerns are starting to keep her up at night.

“I will be able to work it out this time but I don’t know how long I can go on like this,” she added. “Eventually I will have to take money out of my 401K apparently to make mortgage payments. You know, my normal monthly payments if it goes on, which if you listen to the news, it sounds like there’s no end in sight. It’s really scary. It’s stressful. It’s causing me a lot of stress. I have a hard time even sleeping thinking about it. I’m dreaming about it now, going into the office and being told, ‘We don’t need you. Go home.’”

Denise Price, a furloughed worker at the Department of the Treasury who also attended the Thursday rally, says she’s trying to watch her spending as close as she can and prioritize where her money goes.

“I’m trying to bleed out whatever little bit of funds that I have,” she said. “It’s very tough. It really is. I have to pick between what bills I can pay and what bills I have to put aside and try to figure out how to pay.”

She says the situation has been tough on her family, and while her daughter has offered to contribute part of her paycheck, Price would like to avoid that. “I want to be able to support my family the way I’m supposed to support them,” she said.

“I want to go back to work,” she continued. “I want the powers that be to come together, make a decision. Please open the government so that we can get back to work. We need to provide services to the American people. I enjoy my work, my other co-workers enjoy their work. Please, get it together, put all those judgements aside, and come together. Come to an agreement and open the government.”

About 900 miles south of the nation’s capital at the Kennedy Space Center, workers across the area have been told not to report in to their jobs.

Steve Ching, a contractor with NASA who works as an industrial technician, says the shutdown “also affects scientists, engineers, all the different support staff down at the Kennedy Space Center. They have literally closed the gates and no one is working.”

While the financial impact on some of the people there has been profound, he said the shutdown is grinding down the operations his team is responsible for every day.

“Of our crew of ten on the high voltage, we only have two that are currently there sporadically for what they refer to as ‘necessity work,’ but other than that everybody is home without a paycheck,” he said.

“It not only affects me but also all the other workers down there,” he added. “I mean, our mortgages and rent, our utilities, our car payments, everything that we have for necessities in life continue on and we don’t have any income.”



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Politics

Supreme Court blocks suit over racially gerrymandered districts in Virginia

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a lawsuit in Virginia over political boundaries for its state Legislature.

By a 5-4 vote — but not strictly along the usual conservative/liberal divide — the court said Virginia’s House of Delegates did not have the legal right to carry on a fight over the map once state officials bowed out.

The dispute arose after the last census when the Republican-controlled Legislature redrew the district lines for the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates. In response to a lawsuit, a federal court declared the map invalid, concluding that it unconstitutionally sorted voters based on race. A redrawn map was seen as more favorable to Democrats.

Virginia’s attorney general declined to appeal, and the House of Delegates picked up the fight. But the Supreme Court said a single house of the Legislature had no authority to do so.

“The House observes that Virginia gives redistricting authority to the ‘General Assembly.’ True enough,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote. But, she said, “One house of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process.”

She was joined by two of the court’s other liberals, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, but also by two of the court’s most conservative members, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring called the ruling a big win for democracy.

“It’s unfortunate that House Republicans wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and months of litigation in a futile effort to protect racially gerrymandered districts, but the good news is that this fall’s elections will take place in constitutionally drawn districts,” Herring said.

Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general during the Obama administration, called the decision “an important victory for African Americans in Virginia who have been forced since 2011 to vote in racially gerrymandered districts that unfairly diluted their voting power.”

“With a new, fair map in place, all Virginians will now — finally — have the opportunity this fall to elect a House of Delegates that actually represents the will of the people,” Holder said.

Monday’s decision will have no practical effect, because the Supreme Court had earlier allowed elections to proceed using the redrawn map that the House of Delegates opposed.



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Politics

Biden diagnosed the problem, but I’ve got the solution

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When Joe Biden jumped into the presidential race in April, one of his competitors, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, said the former vice president gets the economic problems facing Americans in the middle of the country.

Ryan told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle the former vice president understands how blue collar workers are struggling, a problem Ryan said he gets as well. But, the congressman said he thinks he’s the one with answers for those problems, not Biden.

Referring to a clip of Biden speaking about the problems facing Rust Belt workers, Ryan said he’d be “talking about the issues that are important and talking about the anxiety the vice president just mentioned,” but would be the one who will have “innovative solutions,” including creating “an industrial policy in the United States.”

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Mitch McConnell isn’t sure why Jon Stewart is ‘all bent out of shape’ over 9/11 funds

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he doesn’t know why comedian Jon Stewart got “all bent out of shape” over funding for 9/11 first responders, and insisted “we will take care of” them.

The Kentucky Republican, who’s been accused over the years of slow-walking related legislation to help the emergency personnel who responded to the 2001 terrorist attacks, told “Fox & Friends” there’s “no way we won’t address this problem appropriately.”

Stewart had called out McConnell on “Fox News Sunday,” noting that the GOP leader had claimed earlier in the week he had always dealt with the first responders in a “compassionate way, and I assume we will again.”

“I want to make it clear this has never been dealt with compassionately by Senator McConnell,” Stewart said in the interview. “He has always held out until the very last minute, and only then under intense lobbying and public shaming has he even deigned to move on it.”

McConnell dismissed Stewart’s concerns Monday morning.

“Many things in Congress happen at the last minute,” he said. “We’ve never failed to address this issue and we will address it again. I don’t know why he’s all bent out of shape, but we will take care of the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund.”

Stewart, the former host of “The Daily Show,” took aim at Congress during his appearance before a House subcommittee last week, where he lobbied for a bill that would ensure the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund would be funded for 70 years. Congress has paid for the fund, which will run out of money in 2020, with a series of short-term spending bills, forcing first responders who were sickened by working in the toxic rubble of the World Trade Center to repeatedly travel to Washington to plead for help.

Testifying with Stewart last Tuesday was former NYPD detective Luis Alvarez, who was headed for a 69th round of chemotherapy the next day.

Stewart noted that there were several empty seats at the hearing.

“I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to — behind me a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me a nearly empty Congress,” he said. “Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak, to no one.”

“It’s shameful,” Stewart said.

McConnell shrugged off that complaint on “Fox & Friends” as well.

“That frequently happens because members have a lot of things going at the same time and it sounds to me like he was looking for some way to take offense,” he said.

In addition, the subcommittee hearing had been held in the full committee’s hearing room, increasing the number of empty chairs on the dais.

Asked if the legislation would be fully funded by the Senate after it is passed by the House, McConnell said, “Yeah.”



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