Commentary: Armstrong continued Ohio’s aviation leadership

Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012 @ 11:59 PM
Updated: Sunday, August 26, 2012 @ 11:59 PM

Ohioan Neil Armstrong was a brilliant engineer, an exceptionally skillful pilot and a tireless, if quiet, advocate for aviation and space exploration.

As global transportation erodes borders, it matters less what state and even what nation we live in. But for now, it matters a lot that the first human footprint off the earth was made by a Buckeye.

Armstrong’s powerful intellect, his pioneering spirit and his sense of duty exemplified the qualities Ohioans prize. They’re the same qualities that marked Wilbur and Orville Wright — the Dayton brothers who invented, perfected and patented the airplane in Ohio.

Armstrong always stressed that he and Buzz Aldrin didn’t make the first moon landing on their own. It took an army of people, and Ohioans played vital roles.

Apollo 11’s Saturn V rocket rode from its assembly building to the launchpad on the back of a gigantic crawler that was designed and manufactured by the Marion (Ohio) Power Shovel Company.

The Saturn rocket’s upper-stage engines burned high-energy liquid hydrogen, technology developed at NASA’s Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center in Cleveland.

Ohio has been an aviation powerhouse since the Wright brothers built the first purpose-built airplane factory on Dayton’s West Third Street more than a century ago.

Ohioans have been responsible for so much aviation heritage that the eight-county region around Dayton is designated a National Aviation Heritage Area. The aerospace industry is one of the driving forces in the state’s economy.

Last May Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery marked the 100th anniversary of Wilbur Wright’s death. Armstrong agreed to speak, but not as the first man on the moon or even former astronaut.

“ ‘Astronaut’ is just anyone who has been above a certain altitude regardless of their occupation. So I don’t look on it as particularly important,” he wrote in an email to Amanda Wright Lane, a great-grandniece of the Wright brothers and one of the event’s organizers. Instead, he wrote, “I would just suggest ‘Engineer and Flyer.’ ” That’s how the program billed him.

Armstrong also sought no publicity on a cold December day in 2007 when he went to Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport for a bone-chilling ride on the Wright “B” Flyer, a lookalike of a 1911 Wright airplane.

After several hops down the runway in the open-air machine, Armstrong’s face was lobster-red. The 77-year-old aviator warmed up in the hangar and then asked to go again, this time up and away from the airport where he could really fly it.

Wilbur once promoted Ohio as the ideal place to be born.

“If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, “ he said in 1910, “I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.”

Thanks to Armstrong, the Wright brothers and many others, Ohio remains a major source of aviation research. That is as fitting a legacy as any for an Engineer and Flyer.

 

Tim Gaffney is a media relations professional, a trustee for several local aviation organizations and a retired Dayton Daily News staff writer.

Congress slides into a government shutdown, as Democrats derail temporary budget in Senate

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:16 PM

In a high stakes game of legislative chicken, the U.S. Senate on Friday night blocked a House-passed bill to fund operations of the federal government for the next four weeks, as most Democrats joined with a handful of Republicans to filibuster the spending measure, demanding faster action on immigration matters, driving the Congress toward the first federal government shutdown since 2013.

The vote was 50 to 49 – 60 votes were needed.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump had met with Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer at the White House – but while they seemed to make some progress, there was no final deal.

And Mr. Trump made clear who was to blame.

A handful of members from both parties broke with their leaders on the Senate vote, which would have shut off debate on the four week spending measure approved on Thursday by the House.

Mainly because of the impasse over DACA and immigration, several Republicans refused to join with the President, as they voted against the plan.

“I believe no one wants the government to shut down,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “I also believe that we are inside the ten yard line on finding solutions on all issues.”

Other Republican “no” votes included Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Democrats voting to end debate included five from states which were won by President Trump: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO), and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9DjtAfhZFY&w=640&h=390]

For many Democrats, the biggest thing missing from a temporary budget plan was something concrete on the DACA program, to deal with close to 700,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” now in the United States.

In the various Congressional office buildings, immigration activists and many Dreamers joined in demonstrations for their cause.

But Republicans argued that backers of DACA relief were not interested in doing enough to stop people from coming illegally in the future.

“We want to be able to resolve this, but it has to be resolved with border security attached to it,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).

“There’s a deal here that could be struck very quickly,” argued Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

But signs of a late agreement did not seem to be there for Senators as the clock ticked toward midnight, a reminder that many hours had been spent in recent months on the issue, so far – to no avail.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Congressional leaders would try to broker a deal.

President Trump stayed at the White House Friday night instead of flying as scheduled to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida. It’s not clear if he will go there on Saturday for a party to mark his first year in office.

 

How will you be impacted? Everything to know about the government shutdown

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 6:41 PM

Government shutdown expected; what happens now

As the clock stroke midnight Saturday morning and no deal had been reached, the shutdown of the government became official.

Now, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government actually shuts down completely. Employees and services deemed “essential” will remain in place. Here’s a breakdown.

Will a shutdown delay my tax refund?

Wright Patt: Workers to show up Monday even if shutdown occurs

What happens to veterans?

Will I get my mail?

Could travel plans be impacted?

Government shuts down, negotiations expected through weekend

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:23 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 12:11 AM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

The federal government shut down Saturday for the first time since 2013 late Friday, with a handful of Republicans and the vast majority of Democrats in the Senate opposing efforts to keep the federal government running for another month.

By a vote of 50-48, Senate Republicans fell far short of the 60 votes needed to end floor debate and clear the way for a vote on a bill approved Thursday by the House which would keep the federal government open until the middle of February.

Hundreds of housands of federal workers faced the possibility of being furloughed during a shutdown.

While most of the functions of the federal government will still operate – the mail will be delivered, Social Security checks will still go out, the military will still function – workers deemed “non-essential” would be asked not to go to work, and would be paid only after the federal government resumed operations.

RELATED: Five things to know if a shutdown happens

RELATED: Dreamers rally in Dayton to support DACA

At issue was what would be the fourth temporary spending bill passed by Congress since the fiscal year began in October.

That bill would also extend the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, for six years. Republicans included the measure as a sweetener aimed at attracting Democratic support.

At first, the plan seemed to work, with Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio indicating he’d likely support the bill. But Brown joined most Senate Democrats Friday in blocking a floor vote.

Brown was influenced in part by the announcement Friday that a handful of Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona did not plan to vote for the bill. They had been working toward a separate measure aimed at extending a program that allows people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay, and called for a short-term bill that would keep the government open through early next week, expressing confidence that they could come up with a long term plan during that time.

Brown jumped, saying he’d support the shorter-term plan.

“We are very close to a bipartisan agreement, and we owe it to the people we work for to keep working and get the job done,” said Brown.

RELATED: 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program

RELATED: Trump and Schumer end private talks with no deal in hand

But in agreeing to the shorter-term plan, he became the object of derision from Republicans who hope to unseat him later this year. They said by opting not to support the bill passed by the House, he was effectively voting against the six-year extension of CHIP.

Blaine Kelly of the Ohio Republican Party said Brown’s decision not to vote for the GOP plan “is a flip flop beyond belief, and puts the health insurance of nearly a quarter million Ohio children at risk.”

Jennifer Donohue, communications director for Brown, replied that CHIP would have passed “months ago” if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, “had listened to Senator Brown, but instead they’re holding the program hostage and using Ohio kids as political leverage.”

Last December, Brown voted against a temporary spending bill that kept the government open because it only extended CHIP money for three months instead of five years.

While Republicans blamed Senate Democrats for the shutdown, a Washington Post-ABC News Poll released Friday indicated most Americans blamed the party in power: 48 percent of those polled blamed Republicans while 28 percent blamed Democrats.

Ohio Democrats, meanwhile, pointed out that Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who is challenging Brown for Senate, voted for the measure that led to the federal government shutdown in 2013.

“If the government shuts down tonight, the blame will lay at the feet of Republicans in control of Washington, like Rep. Jim Renacci, who irresponsibly govern by crisis and play political games,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jake Strassberger.

Renacci and Senate Republican candidate Mike Gibbons were quick to strike back. James Slepian, a Renacci aide said “after Sherrod Brown vowed to shut down the government, cut off funding to our troops and deny health insurance to 9 million low income children, Senator Brown and his lackeys at the Ohio Democratic Party are terrified by the hell he’ll pay with Ohio voters.”

Gibbons said that “Sherrod Brown and Chuck Schumer are playing politics with people's lives for partisan advantage.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” seemed puzzled that Democrats were holding up the bill in large part because of the immigration issue, saying “it’s an issue that hasn’t been resolved yet and it will take a little more time.” He backed moving the bill forward.

“This is not a good way to score political points,” Portman said. 

Despite the shutdown, much of the government will remain effectively operational, albeit on a smaller scale, at least in the short term. The mail will still get delivered, the post offices will remain open, the Army, Navy and Air Force operate as usual but active duty members will not be paid until the shutdown ends, and Americans receive their Social Security checks. Medicare and Medicaid continue to function.

The state in 2016 had 77,400 federal employees, of which 5,250 were on active duty with the Air Force. Air Force civilian employment was 13,838, almost all at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

During past partial shutdowns, some civilian workers were furloughed, although they were paid when the government re-opened. In the 2013 shutdown, 50 workers at the Defense Supply Center in Whitehall were furloughed.

In part, Democrats have adopted a strategy aimed at their political base which is demanding action on the Dreamers and wants more confrontation with Trump. By doing so, they are emulating the Republican strategy of 2013 in which the GOP closed the government in a futile effort to convince President Barack Obama to scrap his 2010 health law known as Obamacare.

“Smart Republicans have learned how stupid it is politically to shut down the government,” said one longtime Republican lobbyist in Washington. “You don’t win when you shut down the government.

The Republican said the Senate Democrat strategy was complicated when House Republicans overcame their vast differences and passed the temporary spending bill Thursday. Until then, Senate Democrats could justifiably argue that the GOP-controlled House could not keep the government open.

“It would have been one thing if the House failed,” the Republican said. “But once (House Speaker Paul) Ryan did the miraculous and passed a bill with votes from people who hate spending bills of any kind, it totally changed the dynamic.” 
 

Senate fails to pass budget; government shutdown now official 

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 11:19 PM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the budget battle in Congress (all times local):

12:00 a.m.

The government shutdown is now official, as the deadline has been reached with no deal in place.

The White House released a statement on what they are calling the ‘Schumer Shutdown:’

“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.”

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11:25 p.m.

White House Press Secretary tweeted a response to the Senate failing to pass a budget.

“Democrats can’t shut down the booming Trump economy, they’ll shut down the government instead.”

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11 p.m.

Senate Democrats appear to have derailed a Republican bill aimed at preventing a federal shutdown set to begin as soon as the calendar flips to Saturday.

Friday's late-night vote means at least a short government closure is all but unavoidable. There have been no clear public signs that the two parties have significantly narrowed their disputes over immigration and the budget.

The House approved the measure Thursday over Democratic opposition. It would keep agencies afloat through Feb. 16, but Democrats want a package lasting just days in hopes of intensifying pressure on the GOP to compromise.

Republicans control the Senate 51-49. The GOP needed 60 votes to prevail, but the tally was 50-48 as of 11 p.m. Eastern time. The Senate is awaiting a final vote from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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10:30 p.m.

The Trump administration will exempt several hundred presidential staffers from mandatory furloughs if the government shuts down at midnight.

Contingency plans released Friday night show that 659 Executive Office of the President staffers would be allowed to report to duty because they are considered essential workers. More than 1,000 of 1,700 staffers would be furloughed.

The number is higher than the Obama administration, which deemed 545 staffers essential in 2015.

The Executive Office of the President includes those who work in White House Office, the Office of the Vice President and the National Security Council, among others.

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9:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says efforts to avert a government shutdown are "Not looking good."

Trump says in a tweet late Friday evening that it's "Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border."

And he's blaming Democrats, saying they want a federal government shutdown "in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy."

Lawmakers are trying to hash out a deal to keep the federal government open. A partial shutdown will begin at midnight if Congress doesn't pass a funding bill.

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8:55 p.m.

Newly minted Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones is breaking ranks with party leaders and will vote for the House-passed Republican bill preventing a federal shutdown.

Jones tells The Associated Press he will "reluctantly" vote for the measure late Friday. He says he's backing it because the measure contains fresh financing for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which helps low-income children.

It will be Jones' highest-profile vote since he joined the Senate Jan. 3 after his upset special election victory over conservative Roy Moore.

Democrats say they have the votes to block the GOP measure. Republicans control the Senate 51-49 but need 60 votes to prevail.

Jones joins at least three other Democrats saying they'll support the bill: North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana's Joe Donnelly and West Virginia's Joe Manchin.

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7:30 p.m.

Administration officials say President Donald Trump would be allowed to travel to Davos, Switzerland, next week even if the government has been partially shut down.

Senior administration officials told reporters in a background briefing call that the president is permitted to continue to exercise his constitutional duties during a funding lapse. That includes carrying out diplomacy.

The officials declined to comment on whether the president would be able to travel to Florida this weekend to spend time at his Mar-a-Lago club.

Trump is planning to attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting next week in Switzerland. He plans to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May, among others.

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7:20 p.m.

The Senate has scheduled a showdown vote for 10 p.m. EST on preventing a federal government shutdown. Democrats are ready to block the Republican measure.

Unless Congress approves some legislation providing money, government agencies will begin shutting down at midnight.

The initial impact on most people will be slight, but the closure will raise the stakes in a partisan fight over immigration and the budget.

The House approved a bill Thursday keeping agencies open through Feb. 16.

Led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, most Democrats are opposing the measure.

Republicans control the Senate 51-49 but need 60 votes to prevail. More than enough Democrats appear ready to vote "no."

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5:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is striking an optimistic tone as the deadline for a federal government shutdown nears.

Trump tweeted Friday afternoon, less than seven hours before the midnight deadline, that he had "an excellent preliminary meeting" in the Oval Office with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

He is also praising the role being played by fellow Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Trump says negotiators are "making progress" and says a four-week spending extension "would be best." That's what the House passed Thursday.

Schumer told reporters after the White House meeting that progress had been made but a deal had not yet been reached.

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2:45 p.m.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer says he and President Donald Trump "made some progress" at a White House meeting, "but we still have a good number of disagreements."

The New York Democrat said "discussions will continue."

Trump asked Schumer to the White House for a meeting that lasted more than an hour.

The Oval Office session came with hours to go before a partial government shutdown at midnight.

Schumer'ss pressing for protections for younger immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, but the White House and Republicans say talks on that issue should be kept separate from legislation to prevent a shutdown.

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2:30 p.m.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has left the White House after a lengthy meeting with President Donald Trump.

Trump invited the Senate's top Democrat to try to reach a deal to avert a government shutdown.

Schumer did not address reporters as he left the building.

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12:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump has invited Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to the White House to try to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown.

That's according to a person familiar with Trump's outreach who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation.

Schumer is expected to meet with Trump shortly.

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12:20 p.m.

The House has voted to remain in session — for now at least — while a Senate vote to avert a government shutdown looms.

Republican leaders planned to adjourn Friday after approving a four-week spending bill Thursday night that would avert a government shutdown. They changed course Friday after Democrats forced a formal vote on adjournment. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, said lawmakers have not completed their work and should not leave Washington.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans want to go to Davos, Switzerland "hobnobbing with their elitist friends instead of honoring their responsibilities to the American people."

A GOP aide said McCarthy won't attend the World Economic Forum in Davos if the government shuts down.

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12 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that Democrats will get the blame for a partial government shutdown that looks increasingly likely.

The Kentucky Republican says Senate Democrats will "own" the shutdown because they oppose a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open for a month.

McConnell says he looks forward to a vote soon, though Democrats and a handful of Republicans are expected to filibuster the measure.

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11:45 a.m.

The Trump administration is minimizing the looming budget crisis that could produce a government shutdown, saying former President Barack Obama "weaponized" hardcore negotiating tactics.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters that any such shuttering of the government would "look very different" from the 16-day government closure in 2013 under Obama. He said the previous administration "weaponized" the government shutdown in budget negotiations and did not encourage agencies to lessen the impact with unobligated funds.

He says, "they chose to make it worse."

Mulvaney and Marc Short, the White House legislative director, spoke as the Republican-controlled Congress battled through budget negotiations in the shadow of a midnight deadline. If no resolution is reached, the government would shut down most operations.

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11:40 a.m.

As a government shutdown loomed, the White House said Friday that President Donald Trump would not leave for a planned weekend in Florida unless a spending bill passes.

Trump had been set to leave Friday afternoon to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his inauguration at his Palm Beach estate.

Vice President Mike Pence still plans to travel to the Middle East on Friday night despite the potential for a shutdown of the federal government.

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10:25 a.m.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is putting the chances of a government shutdown at "between 50 and 60 percent."

Mulvaney spoke to reporters at the White House Friday as the prospect of a shutdown loomed. He said he was "handicapping it" between 50 and 60 percent. But, he added, "we're planning for it as though it's 100 percent."

After the House passed a four-week, government-wide spending bill, Senate Democrats vowed a filibuster unless there's a deal to protect certain young immigrants.

Asked about a Plan B, Mulvaney noted talks over a shorter term deal, but said the House may be leaving which could create a funding lapse.

Still, he said that he's open to that. He says: "we'd like to keep the government open."

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8:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump will not leave for a weekend at his Palm Beach estate unless a government shutdown is averted.

The White House said Friday that Trump will not head to Florida unless a funding bill passes.

Trump was set to leave Friday afternoon and planned to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his inauguration at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump tweeted Friday morning about the Friday night shutdown deadline, suggesting Democrats would be to blame.

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7:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Senate Democrats are focused on "illegal immigration and weak borders" as a government shutdown looms.

Trump says on Twitter Friday: "Government Funding Bill past (sic) last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders."

He adds: "Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!"

A divided Congress stared down a government shutdown Friday as Republicans and Democrats remain deadlocked on immigration.

After the House passed a four-week, government-wide spending bill, Senate Democrats vowed a filibuster unless there's a deal to protect around 700,000 immigrants from deportation who arrived in the U.S. as children and stayed illegally.

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1:08 a.m.

A bitterly-divided Congress is hurtling toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being deported.

Democrats in the Senate have served notice they will filibuster a four-week, government-wide funding bill that passed the House Thursday evening, seeking to shape a subsequent measure but exposing themselves to charges they are responsible for a looming shutdown.

Republicans controlling the narrowly-divided chamber took up the fight, arguing that Democrats were holding the entire government hostage over demands to protect "Dreamer" immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.