GOP leaders open door to new strategy

BY Terence Burlij  October 10, 2013 at 8:31 AM EDT


From left, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Dave Camp, R-Mich., Tom Graves, R-Ga., Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., and John Carter, R-Texas. Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

After making several runs at defunding or delaying President Barack Obama’s health care law, it appears some Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are ready to relent on that demand in an attempt to reopen the federal government and avert a potential default on the country’s debt.
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The willingness of GOP lawmakers to embrace a different strategy comes as polls show the party has absorbed much of the blame for the shutdown. A Gallup survey released Wednesday found that the Republican Party’s favorability has declined to a record low, with 28 percent of the public viewing the GOP favorably. That was down from 38 percent last month.

The president is scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon with a group of 18 House Republicans to discuss how the two sides might resolve the pair of fiscal disputes. The entire House GOP conference had been invited to the White House for the gathering, but an aide to House Speaker John Boehner suggested a smaller negotiating team would be more likely to find a solution.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that the president is “disappointed” the speaker is “preventing” his members from attending the session. Still, two of the Republicans who will be in attendance Thursday are partly responsible for signalling a shift in the party’s strategy.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan each penned editorials Wednesday urging the president to enter into negotiations with Republicans, but neither issued ultimatums when it came to changing the health care law. (Cantor’s appeared in the Washington Post, while Ryan wrote for the Wall Street Journal.)

Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, called on Mr. Obama to support “common-sense reforms of the country’s entitlement programs and tax code.” He wrote:

This isn’t a grand bargain. For that, we need a complete rethinking of government’s approach to helping the most vulnerable, and a complete rethinking of government’s approach to health care. But right now, we need to find common ground. We need to open the federal government. We need to pay our bills today–and make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow. So let’s negotiate an agreement to make modest reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code.

Following a meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday, Carney released a statement saying the president remained willing to enter into broader talks about the budget, but only after Congress votes to get the government back up and running and lift the country’s borrowing limit.

“The President discussed his desire, once the threat of default is removed and the government is reopened, to engage with both sides on a discussion of how we achieve a broader budget agreement that puts job creation, economic growth, and a strong middle class front and center,” Carney said.

In addition to his meeting with House Republicans, the president will also sit down Thursday with Senate Democrats. A meeting with Senate Republicans is also expected to occur, but a date has yet to be announced.

In the meantime, Politico’s Burgess Everett and Manu Raju report that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has quietly been gauging the support of his members for receiving other concessions as part of a deal to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling:

Among the ideas under serious consideration are a repeal of medical device tax in the health care law, a plan to verify that those seeking subsidies under Obamacare prove their income level and a proposal to grant additional flexibility to federal agencies to implement sequestration cuts.

The under-the-radar effort is the latest sign that Republicans in the Senate are actively looking for a new way out of a fiscal crisis that polls show is causing their party more harm in the eyes of voters. Since Republicans refuse to accept Democratic demands for a straight extension of the debt ceiling and a stop-gap spending measure, Republican senators are trying to more clearly spell out what it wants out of the fight — after the party was badly divided on whether to make the fight about gutting Obamacare.

Those proposals could be paired with a two-month increase of the national debt ceiling and a six-month continuing resolution to reopen the government at a $986-billion funding level that both parties have agreed to, under one package discussed among McConnell and GOP senators on Wednesday, sources said. McConnell is not endorsing the proposal, aides stressed, but is simply taking the temperature of his caucus.

The president said Tuesday that he would accept a short-term agreement to open the government and raise the debt ceiling to provide time for negotiations to take place. But that would leave lawmakers a fairly narrow window to reach an agreement on significant issues such as entitlement programs and reforming the tax code. And given the current political climate in Washington, that will be no easy task.

The NewsHour aired a story from California on how the shutdown has prevented some homeless people from moving into government-sponsored apartments.

Watch the video here or below:

And to look more broadly at other shutdown effects and how it has evolved day by day, Jeff Brown spoke with reporters Reid Wilson and Gregory Korte.

Watch here or below:

Wilson wrote this piece for the Washington Post about the states feeling the pinch thanks to the shutdown. And Korte, a USA Today reporter, published this helpful question-and-answer piece on what’s affected when the shutdown began.

SOME STICKING WITH DEFUNDING PUSH

Defunding the Affordable Care Act is still considered “a winning tactic” by one conservative organization, Politics Desk Assistant Bridget Bowman reports.

“I think that over the course of next week President Obama will feel pain. I think that we will win the debate over the government shutdown,” Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor Wednesday. Needham steadfastly defended the Republican strategy to link funding the government to defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Heritage Action for America rates Members of Congress on their conservatism. Needham was asked how a Republican member of Congress could resolve the current standoff and remain in the group’s “good graces.” His answer? “The only acceptable way out of this is some sort of deal to fund the federal government without funding Obamacare.”

But as Needham insisted that any effort to fund the government should defund the health care law, he stopped short of tying the defunding effort to the debt ceiling. “Right now the fight on Obamacare is going on in the fight over the CR,” he said. Instead Needham said any motion to the debt ceiling should address long-term spending. While he admitted that a failure to raise the debt ceiling would have negative economic effects, he echoed other Republicans who have denied the possibility of federal default.

LINE ITEMS

  • Politico Pro summarizes Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s testimony to Congress Thursday morning. USA Today filed another update on his testimony.

  • Former 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will attend a rally Saturday in New Jersey to support Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan.

  • Florida GOP Rep. Bill Young announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election, possibly creating an opportunity for Democrats, according to Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report.

  • Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is among the investors in an insurance scam that authorities say stole identities of terminally ill people. The Providence Journal broke the story Wednesday, and the Washington Post put it into the context of the governor’s race. The AP went a step further, alleging that McAuliffe lied to an investigator — and then retracted its story. McAuliffe’s spokesman said he was a “passive investor” who was also deceived in the scam.

  • Americans United for Change is airing TV attack ads that tie Republicans and the tea party to the government shutdown in 10 Republican-held congressional districts.

  • And the Democratic National Committee is robocalling voters in Texas and in Florida, among other states, to attack Republicans like Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz on the government shutdown.

  • Chris Cillizza talked to historian Michael Beschloss, who says the presidential bully pulpit has always been an overrated tool.

  • The National Journal is showcasing the faces of the shutdown.

  • Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told his home-state paper he feels “great” after emergency heart surgery.

  • The father of fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden is visiting his son in Russia.

  • The Los Angeles Times opinion page won’t publish letters that deny climate change.

  • Hillary Clinton will speak at the Progressive Party on Oct. 24 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Center for American Progress.

  • The Washington City Paper is taking the shutdown to heart.

  • The Washington Post talked with the National Mall’s citizen lawn mower.

  • Ann Romney made Mittloaf on Jay Leno’s show Wednesday night.

  • USA Today’s Susan Page has her own YouTube commercial.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • Ray Suarez examined the stalled efforts to pass immigration reform and this week’s rally on the National Mall in a story Wednesday night. Watch Ray’s report here or below:

  • Janet Yellen is poised to become the first woman to head the Federal Reserve. Judy Woodruff and two economics experts examined how she may lead.

  • Scientists have published in the journal Nature their prediction that the world will shift to new climates in the next 50 years.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

TOP TWEETS

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

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