(USA Today) Federal agencies are usually mostly closed on weekends, so the government shutdown will be less noticeable in the marble halls of Washington today. But the Capitol building will be unusually busy as lawmakers continue to huddle, looking for solutions to the shutdown and looming debt limit. And while some states have figured out how to reopen national parks, many museums and other tourist attractions will remain locked. Here are five things to know about the government shutdown Saturday (Day 12.)
In Congress, talks continue
Senate and House Republicans are working on separate proposals to reopen the government and raise the nation's debt ceiling — or at least delay an Oct. 17 deadline when the Treasury Department will run out of room under the debt cap. House Republicans are meeting Saturday morning to discuss their proposal for a short-term debt limit extension; Senate Democrats will hold their first test vote on a measure to push the debt limit off for more than a year. Senate Republicans are working on a plan that is somewhere in the middle, likely an extension through January. President Obama says he hopes a deal can get done this weekend.
Crash investigations are being delayed
The National Transportation Safety Board told Congress on Friday that shutdown-induced furloughs have forced the agency to suspend more than 1,000 crash investigations. Agency head Deborah Herman said that the agency can collect "perishable" evidence from crash sites, but can't hold hearings and conduct other investigative activities. One of the accident investigations on hold: the July Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco that killed three people.
States are reopening some parks
Arizona is reopening the Grand Canyon, Colorado and Utah have arranged deals with the Interior Department to use state money to reopen national parks in their states, and New York is reopening the Statue of Liberty. This is not a cheap fix — the Utah governor says it will cost the state $1.67 million — and one of the outstanding questions is whether the feds will reimburse states once the government reopens.
And D.C. still wants you
The Washington, D.C., tourism office is taking steps to help tourists navigate around the shutdown. The group has launched a "Shutdown Concierge" hotline to help visitors figure out what is still open, and has set up a website with details as well. "There's a lot of stuff to do — even on the Mall with all the barriers up," said spokeswoman Sarah Maciejewski.
Dog walkers feeling the bite
There is a thriving dog-walking industry in D.C., with all of the young professionals working long hours and needing doggie day care. But with federal agencies shuttered, many federal employees are staying home and spending quality time with their four-legged friends — leaving the dog walkers cooling their heels. Grace Steckler says business at her Saving Grace Pet Care business is down 20% since the shutdown began, and that her staff suffers, because they get paid only when there are dogs to walk.
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