Congress no closer to deal on day 2 of shutdown

BY Terence Burlij  October 2, 2013 at 9:10 AM EDT


The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (Dean J. Koepfler/Tacoma News Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)

The prospects for a quick resolution to the shutdown dimmed Tuesday as neither side in the fight over funding the government appeared ready to blink.

House Republicans offered a series of measures to fund national parks, veterans’ programs and the D.C. government, but the White House and Senate Democrats quickly dismissed the approach.

“Now they are focusing on cherry picking the few parts of government they like,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the floor. “It’s just another wacky idea from the tea party-driven Republicans.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the offer showed an “utter lack of seriousness” by GOP lawmakers.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, countered that the administration’s position was “unsustainably hypocritical.” The Morning Line“The president can’t continue to complain about the impact of the government shutdown on veterans, visitors at national parks, and D.C. while vetoing bills to help them,” Steel said.

The Democratic talking point on the floor was that lawmakers could swiftly restore funding for those groups by approving the Senate-passed resolution and sending it right to the president. The targeted measures would first have to go to the Senate, taking even longer.

When it came time for the votes, House Republicans failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to win approval for the bills under a fast-track procedure.

The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman reports House Republicans were expected to make another run at the piecemeal funding plan on Wednesday:

Aides to the Republican leadership said the bills would be introduced on Wednesday under ordinary rules that require only simple majorities, and they should easily pass. But Democrats are likely to be granted procedural votes of their own, which would be an opportunity to test how many Republicans would defy their leadership and vote to reopen the entire government without crippling President Obama’s health care law — the standoff that shut down the government at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.

With the shutdown end-game unclear, there was a growing sense that the budget battle could collide with the approaching Oct. 17 deadline to raise the country’s debt limit.

Politico’s Manu Raju, Jake Sherman and Carrie Budoff Brown outline how the two fiscal fights might become linked:

Within the next few days, if House Republicans don’t accept a Senate plan to open the government until mid-November, Reid is highly unlikely to accept a budget deal if it does not increase the debt ceiling, Democratic sources said Tuesday. If the House GOP won’t back the Senate’s stopgap plan by later this week, Democrats are prepared to argue that it makes little sense to agree to a short-term spending bill if Congress is forced to resolve another fiscal crisis in just a matter of days.

A White House official said Tuesday night that the president could get behind Reid’s strategy.

Across the Capitol, House Republicans were quickly coming to a similar conclusion. Republicans were internally weighing including a debt ceiling hike in their demands to convene a House-Senate conference committee to discuss a bill to reopen the government. In the coming days, the GOP leadership is likely to change its rhetoric, with Republicans arguing about government funding and the debt ceiling in the same breath.

For Tuesday, at least, the focus was squarely on the start of the shutdown, with immediate effects ranging from the shuttering of national parks to the furloughing of some 800,000 federal workers.

The president and first lady opted against attending a gala for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Tuesday night.

Mr. Obama also canceled two of the stops on his upcoming trip to Asia. The White House sent readouts of Mr. Obama’s phone calls with the leaders of Malaysia and the Philippines, noting he told each that “due to the government shutdown, he will not be able to go forward with his planned travel.”

The president will, however, begin a series of events this week to go after Congressional Republicans, taking advantage of the bully pulpit and calling for them to join Democrats for a government funding agreement.

Republican leaders sought to cast the impasse in a different light. In a USA Today op-ed published Tuesday, Boehner criticized the president for rejecting a GOP proposal to engage in bipartisan talks to reopen the government.

“This is part of a larger pattern: the president’s scorched-Earth policy of refusing to negotiate in bipartisan way on his health care law, current government funding, or the debt limit,” Boehner wrote.

The NewsHour captured the day’s drama and the effects of the shutdown far and wide. Watch Kwame Holman’s report here or below:


And as we’ve been reporting, this is still all about politics.

A Quinnipiac University national poll released Tuesday found voters opposing a shutdown over health care 72 percent to 22 percent. Here’s the partisan breakdown of the survey:

Republicans support the federal government shutdown by a narrow 49 – 44 percent margin, but opposition is 90 – 6 percent among Democrats and 74 – 19 percent among independent voters.

There are 17 House Republicans who represent districts the president won in 2012. And that’s one area where you’re seeing give. California Rep. Gary Miller, for example, was re-elected last fall when Mr. Obama received 57 percent of the vote in his district. Miller called Tuesday for passage of a clean continuing resolution to “end the shutdown entirely.” And other Republicans in this category are starting to clamor for a vote. Joined with Democrats, this group is getting close to having the numbers to pass the Senate funding resolution.

USA Today’s Washington bureau chief Susan Page and Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call examined the politics with Gwen Ifill on Tuesday’s NewsHour.

Rothenberg cautioned against reading too much into polls about who is taking the blame on the shutdown, noting that the next election is 13 months away, and the fact remains there aren’t enough seats in play.

Page reminded us that during the shutdown battles of 1995 and 1996, there were 79 House Republicans from congressional districts that then-President Bill Clinton had won.

Watch the discussion here or below:


AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Tuesday marked another big moment in politics — the state-based health care insurance exchanges opened for business.

Democrats hailed high traffic figures to the insurance websites. On Tuesday, 2.8 million people visited the new HealthCare.gov, seven times as many as ever visited Medicare.gov at once, according to the White House. The administration also said that 81,000 people called the 800 number for information.

Republicans focused on the multiple hiccups on websites and bemoaned the law.

The NewsHour has been reporting extensively about the law.

NewsHour’s Jason Kane crafted this helpful cheat sheet explaining what happened Tuesday, and what’s next.

We also got an update on the air Tuesday, examining what changes and what doesn’t, and reported on how the Massachusetts health care law is faring, seven years later. Watch Paul Solman’s report here or below:


And don’t miss our FAQ series with experts.

LINE ITEMS

  • Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski reminds readers of all the other things that Congress failed to do this year, including a reauthorization of the farm bill.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday the nation is “at heightened risk of terrorist attack” due to the shutdown.

  • DC’s non-voting Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, wept on the House floor as lawmakers debated the measure to restore funding for the local government. Norton also defied the shutdown and kept her office open.

  • After initial reports political fundraisers would go on as planned during a shutdown, it turns out a number of lawmakers are canceling them due to optics, reports the Washington Post’s Matea Gold.

  • Veterans stormed the gates at the shuttered World War II Memorial site in Washington Tuesday. Members of Congress were there, too. Here’s more.

  • Ezra Klein got Robert Costa’s take on the GOP’s internal drama.

  • American Bridge 21st Century’s Bridge Project clips together some of the rhetoric suggesting it’s “Groundhog Day” on Capitol Hill.

  • Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner follows up on her scoop about the frayed relationship between Reid and Boehner, stemming from the GOP’s decision to “try to undermine a secret deal the two leaders’ offices made over the summer to save congressional staffers from losing their health care benefits.”

  • Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia, running in the GOP primary for the Senate, said Tuesday he will decline the subsidy for the health care law.

  • The Hill has the skinny on which stars are helping spread the word about the health care law.

  • The New York Times previews the campaign finance case the Supreme Court will consider next week, assuming it remains open for business.

  • The Associated Press reports that the Supreme Court will hear a case about the Oscar-winning movie “Raging Bull.” The daughter of the man whose work was the basis of the film “is hoping the Supreme Court will give her a final second TKO against a movie studio for ownership of boxer Jake LaMotta’s life story,” the AP writes.

  • CNN and NBC documentaries about Hillary Clinton might be called off, but Hollywood is pushing ahead with a Clinton film.

  • A poll from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling found former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican turned Democrat, leading current Republican Gov. Rick Scott in a 2014 matchup.

  • On a furlough? Heard on the Hill rounds up the freebies and specials at Washington-area bars and restaurants.

  • National Zoo employees were warned against talking to the press during a shutdown.

  • “She is a broadcast pioneer, who, through hard work and persistence, broke down barriers for the rest of us, whether on the White House beat, the campaign trail or behind the anchor desk,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell says of Judy Woodruff in a Politico essay for the “Women Rule” project.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

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