Senate nears shutdown endgame while House support remains in question

BY Christina Bellantoni  October 15, 2013 at 8:59 AM EST


Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., walk from McConnell’s office to the Senate Chamber Monday. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

“Everyone just needs to be patient.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid implored his chamber — and by extension, a shutdown-weary American public — to wait out the deal-making process as lawmakers get close to a way to reopen the government and lift the ceiling on the nation’s borrowing limit.

Still, the Nevada Democrat said as the chamber adjourned for the evening, “We’re not there yet.” The Morning Line

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who huddled with Reid throughout Monday, called it a “good” day.

President Barack Obama kept mostly quiet on the deal’s details, venturing out of the White House to work with furloughed federal workers volunteering at a local nonprofit food pantry. He decried the lasting shutdown and warned about the Thursday deadline for exhausting the nation’s borrowing capacity, but said he welcomed the progress being made on Capitol Hill.

To that end, the White House Monday postponed a planned meeting with congressional leaders to allow them more time to craft a compromise, a good sign after negotiations had been stalled for weeks.

Ezra Klein offers one of the clearest explainers we’ve seen of the parameters of the deal that’s emerging:

The government is funded until Jan. 15. The debt ceiling is lifted until Feb. 7. There are a handful of small Affordable Care Act changes: Stronger income verification, which Republicans want, and a one-year delay on the reinsurance tax, which Democrats want.

Oh, and there’s a bicameral budget committee that needs to report back by Dec. 13.

The timing of all this is designed to create a fight about sequestration. The Jan. 15 deadline means funding for the federal government runs out at the exact moment sequestration’s deeper cuts kick in. The Dec. 13 deadline means that the full House and Senate would have time to consider any package of recommendations the bicameral committee comes up with, if the committee actually manages to come up with anything.

Lori Montgomery and Rosalind Helderman elaborate in their A1 story about the timing of the government funding:

In the meantime, policymakers would launch a new round of talks over broader budget issues in hopes of developing a plan to replace deep automatic spending cuts known as the sequester before Jan. 15. That is when the next round of sequester cuts is scheduled to slice another $20 billion out of agency budgets, primarily from the Pentagon.

The compromise proposes to make minor changes to the health care law that began the fiscal standoff in the first place. The Post story notes it would tweak rules to make sure “people who receive federal subsidies to purchase health insurance under the law are eligible to receive them,” something Republicans have sought.

The Post adds that another possible hiccup in a deal is “a demand by Democrats to delay the law’s ‘belly button tax,’ a levy on existing policies that is set to add $63 per covered person — including spouses and dependents — to the cost of health insurance next year. Republicans derided the proposal as a special favor to organized labor.”

Politico’s Hill team writes that “minor sticking points” included whether to change the law “to prevent the Treasury Department from using ‘extraordinary measures’ to go beyond the new Feb. 7 debt limit deadline, a change McConnell was pursuing. But the White House and Reid are strongly opposed to that idea, and several Democratic sources insisted such a provision would not be included in the final package.”

What’s not clear is whether Speaker John Boehner’s Republican caucus will accept such a deal.

Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy were spotted several times Monday chatting with Senate colleagues, and plan to brief the full House GOP Conference Tuesday morning.

But Sen. Ted Cruz, who said repeatedly Monday he would wait to see the details of the plan before deciding if he would attempt to block it, met secretly with 15 to 20 House Republicans Monday at one of the worst restaurants on Capitol Hill. Cruz, getting excoriated by some of his party members, has been working for the last two months with the most conservative House members on the issue of the president’s health care law.

The movement all comes as another Washington Post-ABC News poll found Republicans bearing the brunt of the blame for the shutdown, now in its 15th day. The survey showed 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way the GOP has handled the last few weeks. Democrats were at a 61 percent disapproval rating, and Mr. Obama was at 53 percent.

Already some of the deal-making Republicans have cited their party’s collapsing popularity as they work to end the shutdown.

For his part, Mr. Obama will speak with local television anchors Tuesday. There are no congressional meetings yet on the schedule, but it’s likely there will be discussions about the framework of the deal.

On the NewsHour Monday Kwame Holman reported on the latest, and Gwen Ifill talked with Robert Costa of the National Review about the deal taking shape.

“There’s definitely more of an urgency on the conservative side,” he said.

Watch the segment here or below:

RIPPLE EFFECTS

The NewsHour also examined the vast ripple effects of the government shutdown. From furloughed workers hitting food banks as they struggle without paychecks to scrapped National Guard training exercises, the impacts are being felt across the country.

We began with a report from OETA’s Bob Sands about how central Oklahoma is dealing with the shutdown. Watch that here or below:

Then Judy Woodruff spoke to three public media reporters: Cathy Lewis of WHRV in Hampton Roads, Virginia; Karen Kasler of Ohio Public Radio and Television in Columbus; and Scott Shafer, who hosts “The California Report” on KQED Public Radio in San Francisco. They talked about the effects on tourism, the military and even a civil rights investigation.

Watch the discussion here or below:

LINE ITEMS

  • “The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of address books from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden,” the Washington Post reports.

  • An Esquire-NBC News Survey argues that there’s a large “New American Center” between the partisans on the left and the right. And they have a quiz to help determine where you might fall.

  • The Washington Post’s Helderman and David Farenthold outline the dozen Senators who are in the middle and crafting the deal to end the shutdown.

  • Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs raised some eyebrows Monday with strong words about all the technological glitches with the rollout of the health insurance exchanges.

  • Politico writes that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will start running 60-second radio ads targeting 10 House Republicans on the shutdown.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan’s expected Democratic challenger is the son of the Sikh temple president who was slain in 2012.

  • Marc Fisher of the Washington Post pens a long profile of Virginia gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, digging into his Catholic roots and principled approach to the difference between right and wrong.

  • Dahlia Lithwick of Slate examines how federal courts have been affected by the government shutdown and how long they may continue to operate normally without funding. Hint: The last drops of reserve funds may be gone by Tuesday.

  • Lee Fang of The Nation reported that Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., “sold off up to $250,000 of Treasury notes recently” and Fang posted the disclosure form on Scribd.

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will campaign for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, one of her closest political allies and a longtime friend of the family, at a rally Saturday in Northern Virginia.

  • Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, is headed to Iowa for a Faith and Freedom Coalition banquet.

  • Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times posts photo evidence that First Lady Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden at the White House has fallen victim to weeds during the shutdown.

  • University of Virginia Professor Larry Sabato argues in a new book that John F. Kennedy’s assassination was not part of a conspiracy.

  • Carl Bernstein has a book deal, to write a memoir about his days as a cub reporter at the now-defunct Washington Star.

  • A researcher found that William Howard Taft, our most portly president, had a modern approach to weight loss. Here’s the research paper from the Annals of Internal Medicine.

  • San Francisco Magazine’s Lauren Smiley interviewed the SilkRoad mastermind known as Dread Pirate Roberts from prison.

  • Maeve Reston of the Los Angeles Times tests out a recipe from Ann Romney’s cookbook in a video segment with the author herself.

  • The truth just might be out there. We love this Reddit AMA with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.

  • Given the level of gridlock on Capitol Hill these days, JetBlue is offering a new promotion to help ‘Bills’ move more quickly through D.C.-area airports.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • You, NewsHour viewers, are simply awesome: “After seeing our report on Wednesday, an anonymous NewsHour viewer paid for Dior’s first month’s rent. She was able to move in over the weekend.”

  • Where’s Biden? NewsHour Politics Desk Assistant Bridget Bowman rounds up the chatter on the vice president’s role — or lack of one — in budget negotiations for this blog post.

  • 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

Terence Burlij contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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