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News Wrap: Lawmakers agree on funding military death benefits during shutdown

October 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news, much of the federal government stayed shut down for another day, and the national debt ceiling and a potential default moved another day closer.

NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has our report.

KWAME HOLMAN:  In public, at least, no one at the White House or the Capitol changed position on the shutdown or the ceiling. But there was agreement on one point. The House voted unanimously to guarantee funding for death benefits of $100,000 for the military.

New Jersey Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen:

REP. RODNEY FRELINGHUYSEN, R-N.J.: Our men and women serving in uniform serving in dangerous places all over the globe deserve the peace of mind that knowing that during the worst of times their families will receive the benefits they deserve immediately.

KWAME HOLMAN: White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama also wants the benefits restored.

JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: The president was very disturbed to learn of this problem and he directed the Department of Defense to work with the Office of Management and Budget and his lawyers to develop a possible solution.

KWAME HOLMAN: Later, the Pentagon announced the non-profit Fisher House Foundation will underwrite the death benefits for now.

There were other small signs of growing movement toward ending the standoff. The president met with all House Democrats this afternoon, and planned to meet with a small group of House Republicans tomorrow.

And, in The Wall Street Journal, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin appeared to drop demands for changes in the health care law.

Instead, he wrote: “To break the deadlock, both sides should agree to commonsense reforms of the country’s entitlement programs and tax code.”

Meanwhile, fallout from the shutdown continued to spread.

GEN. ERIC SHINSEKI, Secretary of Veterans Affairs: All the effects that I described and I’m going to describe of the shutdown are negative.

KWAME HOLMAN: At a House hearing, the secretary of veterans affairs, Eric Shinseki, said the Veteran Benefits Administration can’t keep up with claims.

ERIC SHINSEKI: VBA has already furloughed more than 7,800 of its employees, half of whom are veterans. The shutdown directly threatens VA’s ability to eliminate the backlog. We have lost ground we fought hard to take.

KWAME HOLMAN: At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control recalled some workers to deal with a salmonella outbreak that’s sickened more than 270 people across 18 states. And the Federal Aviation Administration called back hundreds of safety inspectors and others, allowing a Boeing plant in South Carolina to resume delivering its 787 Dreamliner planes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There was word later that the Labor Department will not issue its September inflation report next week due to the shutdown. That, in turn, will delay the calculation of next year’s cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients.

On Wall Street, blue-chip stocks eked out small gains, despite ongoing jitters over the impasse in Washington. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 26 points to close at nearly 14803. The Nasdaq fell 17 points to close at 3677.

The United States is cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt over the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi and the military’s violent crackdown. The State Department announced the move late today. It gave no dollar figure, but said the U.S. is halting shipments of major weapons and some cash assistance.

Earlier, a spokeswoman said the cutoff won’t be total, but it won’t be business as usual.

MARIE HARF, State Department: We will continue to support a Democratic transition and oppose violence as a means of resolving differences in Egypt, and our relationship with the Egyptian government, including U.S. assistance to Egypt, will continue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Also today, Egyptian authorities announced the trial of ousted President Mohammed Morsi will begin November 4. He’s accused of inciting supporters to kill protesters while he was in power.

A published report says the Libyan government tacitly approved a U.S. commando raid that netted a top al-Qaida militant. The New York Times’ account today said the Libyans consented ahead of time, although they sharply criticized the raid after it took place on Saturday. According to the report, Libya also approved plans to capture a key suspect in the Benghazi attack last year that killed the U.S. ambassador. That raid didn’t take place.

An investigation has begun in Bangladesh in the latest disaster in a garment factory. A fire yesterday killed at least 10 people, six months after another factory collapsed and killed 1,100.

We have a report from Laura Kuenssberg of Independent Television News.

LAURA KUENSSBERG: A 21st century factory where one overheating machine, we’re told, sparked flames that tore through the building and took lives.

This man’s friend could not escape, his singed I.D. card a record that he was here. So, which brands were linked to this factory? The assistant manager made a list showing some powerful firms he claims used it.

Accidents that kill aren’t uncommon here. So, many Western brands have just signed a new safety deal, but this unit wasn’t part of the new legally binding pact.

Just yesterday, this place was crammed with nearly 200 workers full of the hum of the noise of knitting machines. Now there’s a sickening stench of smoke, smoldering bales of cloth, burnt reels of thread scattering all over the floor, and a search for bodies.

No one here would rid this country of its trade, but distress has been building as tensions in the industry rise, as it claims more lives. This young woman’s husband died in the factory, a widow for a day. Many believe you can make clothes cheaply and safely in Bangladesh, but, in this factory, workers weren’t safe enough.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Bangladesh earns $20 billion a year in garment exports, mostly to the U.S. and Europe.

The former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf was granted bail today in a case involving the death of a separatist leader. Musharraf had been under house arrest since he returned to Pakistan from exile in March. He faces charges in a series of cases from his time in power from 1999 to 2008. His lawyers said today that he’s now free to travel internationally if he wants.

Millions of people in India faced power outages for a sixth day as electrical workers remained on strike. It’s part of a backlash against a plan to take the underdeveloped northern part of Andhra Pradesh state, and create a new state, Telangana. Utility workers have shut down power plants to protest the decision. They, and others, say that it will lead to damaging budget cuts and dilute Andhra Pradesh’s influence.

Three scientists based in the U.S. have won the Nobel Prize for 2013 for Chemistry for developing computer models that explain chemical processes. The winners were Martin Karplus of Strasbourg and Harvard universities, Michael Levitt of Stanford University, and Arieh Warshel from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Their work, dating back to the 1970s, proved essential to developing new drugs and solar energy.