Shutdown’s seventh day begins with political sniping

BY Christina Bellantoni  October 7, 2013 at 9:25 AM EST

House Speaker John Boehner at the U.S. Capitol Saturday. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

“He knows what my phone number is, all he has to do is call.”

That was House Speaker John Boehner appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” clearly frustrated with President Barack Obama.

Boehner on Sunday stressed he just needs a “simple conversation” with the president, something that hasn’t been happening beyond a brief and unfruitful meeting with congressional leaders at the White House last week. The Morning Line “The American people expect in Washington when we have a crisis like this, that the leaders will sit down and have a conversation. And I told my members the other day that there may be a back room somewhere, but there’s nobody in it,” Boehner said.

The Ohio Republican’s interview came on the same weekend the Associated Press released its wide-ranging interview with the president.

Mr. Obama told Julie Pace what he’s been saying for several days — that he’s only willing to negotiate with Republicans on health care and spending if Boehner holds a vote on a politics- and policy-free measure to fund the government.

Boehner also blasted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as inflexible. “That’s what he’s saying, complete surrender and then we’ll talk to you,” Boehner said.

A Reid spokesman responded in a Monday statement that Boehner says “things that fly in the face of the facts or stand at odds with his past actions.”

“Americans across the country are suffering because Speaker Boehner refuses to come to grips with reality,” Reid communications director Adam Jentleson’s statement read. “Today, Speaker Boehner should stop the games and let the House vote on the Senate’s clean CR so that the entire federal government can re-open within twenty-four hours.”

The hardened lines signal there isn’t likely to be any resolution to the standoff any time soon. Without a legislative path forward, what we see play out instead is the political battle.

On Monday as the shutdown stretched into its second week, the president’s Organizing for Action re-election campaign spinoff released what officials say will be a “national cable” television ad bemoaning an “irresponsible” and “reckless” government shutdown.

The spot features GOP members of Congress appearing on television last week, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee proclaiming, “People are probably going to realize they can live with a lot less government.”

“The government shutdown is hurting veterans, seniors and our kids,” a female narrator says. “Now tea party Republicans are threatening an economic shutdown, refusing to pay our nation’s bills, endangering American jobs.”

It closes with a photo of House Republican leaders and an ask: “Tell them to stand up to the tea party.”

Watch here or below.

(And on Friday we noted these new ads calling Boehner a “crybaby” from House Majority PAC.)

Democrats were pleased over the weekend to see this new poll, conducted of 600 voters by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling on behalf of MoveOn.org, showing the GOP is suffering thanks to the shutdown.

It found that Republicans in some of the most competitive districts are running behind generic Democratic challengers and an average approval rating for the GOP incumbents of 36 percent.

So, what’s next?

Mr. Obama told the AP he thinks that “[t]here are enough votes in the House of Representatives to make sure that the government reopens today.” (The president also asked people to be patient as the health care law rollout websites experience technical glitches.)

But Boehner made clear on ABC he has a problem with the president’s math on a continuing resolution to fund the government: “There are not votes in the House to pass a clean CR.”

He said there also aren’t enough votes to avoid a compromise from the White House on raising the nation’s debt limit set to end Oct. 17. Boehner said it’s got to be about curbing government spending.

“We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase,” he said. “I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”

Host George Stephanopoulos asked if that would hold under all circumstances.

Boehner’s reply: “We’re not going down that path. It is time to deal with America’s problems. How can you raise the debt limit and do nothing about the underlying problem?”

Democrats in the House say they have enough votes in their party and enough rebellious Republicans to use procedure to put the clean continuing resolution on the floor, if Boehner would allow it.

Roll Call’s Emma Dumain sums up the procedure-ese nicely here:

Democrats announced Saturday that, in exchange for Republicans appointing conferees to hash out a long dormant budget resolution, they would forfeit their right to offer a “motion to instruct” the House conferees. That’s a tactic minority lawmakers are allowed to employ if a conference report hasn’t been filed within 20 days of appointing conferees. It’s also one of the few devices available to the minority party to break majority hegemony in the House.

A motion to instruct, while non-binding, would essentially tell conferees to take a certain position in the House-Senate conference negotiations. It’s often designed to put members on record on a politically loaded position.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said last April that he was reluctant to appoint conferees because motions to instruct “become politically motivated bombs to throw up on the House floor.”

“We will give up that right,” said the Budget Committee’s ranking member, Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., on Saturday.

But that approach seems to be going nowhere.

On Friday, the NewsHour looked at the tensions boiling over as Boehner told reporters the shutdown isn’t a “damn game.” Watch the segment here or below:

SUPREME COURT BEGINS

Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal returns to the NewsHour Monday night to highlight cases in the 2013-2014 Supreme Court term that begins Monday. The biggest case this week comes Tuesday, when the justices hear arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC, which asks whether individuals who give campaign contributions to multiple candidates and committees in an election cycle should face a cap on their donations.

The McCutcheon case is one of the most important of the term and is seen by some as a possible second act to the Citizens United ruling, which lifted independent spending regulations for corporations and groups during elections.

There isn’t yet a clear blockbuster case this term, such as the Affordable Care Act case in 2012 or same-sex marriage earlier this year. Instead, the court will face a number of potentially important cases spread across many topics. Much will come down to whether the court falls in line with past decisions or chooses to buck them, and whether the court will rule narrowly on the facts or broadly interpret law in a new way.

The term will include challenges on: Michigan’s affirmative action ban; abortions that use drugs instead of surgical procedures; prayer at government meetings; and the president’s power in making political appointments during Congressional recess.

Some big issues wait in the wings. The justices still must decide whether they will hear cases on warrantless searches of cell phones, the Affordable Care Act and religious rights, and the regulation of greenhouse gases.

The government shutdown hasn’t yet affected the Supreme Court. The Court will operate normally until Friday, with no word on what will happen if Congress doesn’t agree to government funding after that.

Also in court news, Jennifer Senior of New York Magazine published a long interview with Justice Antonin Scalia, covering everything from “Duck Dynasty” to his belief in the devil.

The conservative-leaning justice touched on two controversial issues, women’s rights and gay rights. After admitting he may have friends who are gay — though they haven’t come out to him yet — he said:

Maybe the world is spinning toward a wider acceptance of homosexual rights, and here’s Scalia, standing athwart it. At least standing athwart it as a constitutional entitlement. But I have never been custodian of my legacy. When I’m dead and gone, I’ll either be sublimely happy or terribly unhappy.

And on laws that protect women from discrimination:

You can’t treat women differently, give them higher criminal sentences. Of course not …

The issue is, “What is discrimination?”
If there’s a reasonable basis for not ­letting women do something–like going into combat or whatnot …
But there are some intelligent reasons to treat women differently. I don’t think anybody would deny that. And there really is no, virtually no, intelligent reason to treat people differently on the basis of their skin.

The Huffington Post fact-checked the interview here.

And if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner rounds up the 13 things he learned from the piece.

Of course, Monday is a great day to revisit our past Supreme Court coverage with Coyle and analysts, including all the highlights from last term. Check it out at the NewsHour Supreme Court page.

LINE ITEMS

  • Don’t miss this terrific New York Times piece from Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mike McIntire deconstructing the months-long conservative plot to link the health care law with government funding.

  • The Senate is poised to approve, and the president will sign, a measure passed by the House Saturday ensuring furloughed government workers will get paid when the shutdown ends.

  • The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman noticed that some conservatives have been praising agencies and programs they’ve long criticized as they push piecemeal funding bills.

  • Bloomberg’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis on how the shutdown is spilling over into Virginia’s gubernatorial contest.

  • The Washington Post’s Phil Rucker sees some Republicans facing a backlash back home over supporting the shutdown. But not just from Democrats, from business-minded people who might challenge them in GOP primaries.

  • And Politico’s James Hohmann finds the shutdown to be the new “litmus test” in Republican primaries.

  • Politico’s Manu Raju sees Reid’s political long game.

  • Rep. Renee Elmers reversed course and said she won’t take a paycheck after all. The North Carolina Republican’s move came two days after she told a local television station: “The thing of it is, I need my paycheck. That is the bottom line.”

  • Go eat at a food truck in Washington Monday. The Washington Post’s Tim Carman reports the budding businesses are feeling the squeeze thanks to the shutdown.

  • Brian Stelter reports for the New York Times that Sen. Ted Cruz’s lengthy floor time helped C-Span 2 boost its ratings “more than fivefold from the day before.”

  • The Hill’s Ben Goad and Julian Attem break down how federal regulations have been halted by the shutdown.

  • The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Z. Barabak strolls down memory lane with a look back at the California recall election one decade later. Bonus — a quiz!

  • Roll Call’s Jay Hunter evaluates the rental properties owned by Congress’ richest members, from Japan to Jamaica and from Bermuda to the Bahamas.

  • Mr. Obama told the Associated Press he would consider changing the name of the Washington Redskins to avoid offending anyone. Team owner Dan Snyder was not happy with the president’s remark.

  • The Washington Times is now selling “I Survived the Shutdown … by reading The Washington Times” t-shirts at $14.95 a pop. The conservative newspaper notes in an email pitch they will donate portions of the proceeds to the federal debt. Let the shirt “serve as bittersweet statement that you were forced to stay home without pay while Obama and Congress went to work and got paid for doing nothing,” the paper writes on the sales page.

  • Why did the president and Vice President Joe Biden take a stroll to Taylor on Friday? White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters it was simple: “[H]e wanted to get a sandwich.”

  • Christina talked about the shutdown on NPR’s “All Things Considered” Saturday. Listen here.

  • Congrats to Deputy Political Editor Terence Burlij on an awesome half marathon this weekend.

  • Condoleezza Rice is expected to win a spot on the college football committee.

  • Roll Call’s Abby Livingston asked Richard Simmons for advice on cheering up this town during a shutdown. “You can cope if you have hope,” he told her.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • What can Grover teach us about geography? Find out!

  • David Brooks and E.J. Dionne walked Judy Woodruff through a tough political week during Friday’s political analysis chat.

Watch here or below:

TOP TWEETS

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

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