by Phillip Manning ~ October 17th, 2013
The federal government is once again open for business. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 81 to 18 and the House voted 285 to 144 on a resolution that opens the government until January 15th, and raises the federal debt ceiling until February. Representative Don Young and Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski all voted in favor. The House vote concluded around 6:30 on Wednesday evening, and the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers were permitted to return to work on Thursday.
At Denali National Park, everyone is trying to get back to business as usual. Maureen Gualtieri, spokeswoman for the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, says that staff is working through their email backlog and settling back into the offseason schedule. She says that there was some schedule disruption, including post-season meetings with air taxis, climbing guides, and other concessionaires. She says those meetings will likely be rescheduled.
In the Park, spokeswoman Kris Fister says that everything that is normally open for the winter season is open once again. The Park Road is accessible to Mile 30, and the Murie Science and Learning Center is once again serving as the off-season visitor center. She says that warm temperatures caused what little snowfall there had been to melt, meaning the road did not require extensive clearing before traffic could be allowed on it again. Fister also says that Denali had to receive a special exemption related to the care of the care of the Park’s sled dog teams. Plans had been made to feed the team, but staff and volunteers were not going to be allowed to run and exercise the dogs. That restriction was lifted a few days into the shutdown.
While government offices are open, the clock is now ticking on a new deadline. If a settlement of the budget impasse does not arise by January 15th, the government could shut down again.