A bulletin issued by the Department of Interior states, 'Effective immediately upon a lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service will take all necessary steps to close and secure national park facilities and grounds in order to suspend all activities ... Day use visitors will be instructed to leave the park immediately...' (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
By Catalina Camia , USA TODAY
Could a deal be near to end the partial government shutdown and avoid financial calamity? Day 15 of the shutdown on Tuesday could be a defining moment in the federal budget stalemate, with just two days to go before the nation needs to raise its debt ceiling. What you need to know:
Senators say debt/shutdown deal near
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are optimistic that an agreement is close. The draft outline, still being tweaked, would include a stopgap measure to end the shutdown and fund the government through mid-January. At the same time, the nation's $16.7 trillion borrowing authority would be raised until Feb. 7 and a framework for formal budget talks, aimed at getting a long-term deal on spending and deficit reduction by mid-December, would be in place. One of the unknowns is a biggie: Can House Speaker John Boehner's GOP troops support the plan?
Stocks close higher on debt-talks progress
News about the progress made by Senate leaders on a budget and debt limit deal was welcomed on Wall Street. Stocks came back from earlier losses and closed higher on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Nasdaq composite index all finished up. The U.S. bond market was closed because of the Columbus Day holiday.
Poll: GOP gets hammered the most in shutdown
Everyone is mad at the political players in the federal government shutdown, but a new poll by ABC News/Washington Post shows Republicans are taking more heat than President Obama or congressional Democrats. A whopping 74% of Americans disapprove of the way congressional Republicans are handling the budget negotiations, according to the survey released Monday. That compares with 61% who don't like the way Democrats in Congress are conducting themselves and 53% who disapprove of Obama in the stalemate. The ire directed at Republicans is 11 points higher than when the shutdown began Oct. 1.
Squirrels feasting on first lady's White House kitchen garden
First lady Michelle Obama's famous kitchen garden - a centerpiece of her push for healthy lifestyles - has fallen victim to the federal government shutdown. Obama Foodarama, a blog that chronicles all food news out of the White House, reports vegetables are rotting or have fallen to the ground. The squirrels at the White House are now "kids in the candy store, gorging themselves" on ripe, unpicked veggies and produce. Blogger Eddie Gehman Kohan writes that National Park Service gardeners at the White House who remain on duty have been limited to "watering and removing trash," and cannot do any weeding, raking, fertilizing or such.
Justice's wheels slowed as shutdown hits federal courts
The partial government shutdown has had an impact on federal civil cases and those pending in immigration court, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. Courts have said they will remain open for business through Thursday, because reserve funds have been in use since the shutdown began. When those funds run out, it's unclear what would happen if a budget deal isn't in place. Court officials in the New York City metropolitan area, San Francisco, Philadelphia and St. Louis told the AP their court employees are prepared to work if funding runs out.