What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Congress taking political fallout as shutdown continues

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Wait for it …

America kind of hates Congress right now.

Sure, that may not come as a shock, but a wave of new polling reaffirms that dissatisfaction with lawmakers in Washington has increased amid the intense political wrangling over the government shutdown and debate to raise the debt ceiling.

And while neither side in the fight has escaped blame, it does appear that congressional Republicans have seen their standing take a bigger hit than President Barack Obama or their Democratic colleagues on the Hill.
The Morning Line

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday found that disapproval of congressional Republicans’ handling of the budget negotiations jumped to 70 percent, with more than half of respondents saying they disapproved “strongly.”

The survey showed that 45 percent of Americans approve of the president’s handling of budget talks, up from 41 percent a week earlier, in part because of higher marks from moderate Democrats and independents. Still, 51 percent disapprove of Mr. Obama’s approach to the negotiations, with nearly 40 percent saying they did so “strongly.”

Congressional Democrats fared worse, with 61 percent of respondents saying they disapproved of the approach taken by members of the party.

A fresh survey from CNN found 63 percent say they are angry at the Republicans for the way they have handled the shutdown, according to the network’s write-up. Polling Director Keating Holland said 57 percent of Americans are also angry at the way the Democrats are dealing with the shutdown, and 53 percent are angry at Mr. Obama.

And the Pew Research Center found the public is as gridlocked as Congress. A majority of Democrats and Republicans surveyed do not believe their respective parties should alter their uncompromising positions when it comes to the health care law.

As the shutdown stretches to day eight, it’s not looking good.

Highlighting the lack of give in either direction, a measure ensuring back pay for furloughed workers when the shutdown ends, which at first seemed like an obvious deal, hit a major snag. Lawmakers from both parties are still saying they expect workers will be paid, eventually, but they don’t expect the bill to clear the Senate despite unanimous approval from the House.

The president took an opportunity Monday to whack House Republicans — again — for not putting a vote on a no-strings-attached continuing resolution to fund the government on the floor for a vote.

The president said there is “not a subject that I’m not willing to engage in,” saying that he’s open to “common sense compromises” on the health care law, taxes and spending. But he used the word “threat” five times in 11 minutes to say he will not “establish that pattern” of having those conversations with the GOP until the government reopens. He said:

We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of a prolonged shutdown until Republicans get 100 percent of what they want. We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of economic catastrophe that economists and CEOs increasingly warn would result if Congress chose to default on America’s obligations.

Mr. Obama also challenged Speaker John Boehner’s assertion that there weren’t the votes to pass a “clean” continuing resolution to reopen the government, despite multiple vote counts to the contrary.

Given that the House does not seem like the place where things are going to move forward, Senate Democrats are working on a solution that would lift the debt ceiling by $1 trillion and maybe clear a path to open the government.

That approximately one-year increase would avoid the United States from hitting the current $16.7 trillion debt limit on Oct. 17.

The Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb and Ed O’Keefe have the details on how that might work:

Later this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to open debate on a bill that would raise the debt, aides said. To do so, he would need the support of all 54 Senate Democrats and six Republicans — a goal that seemed possible Monday, but is far from assured.

Meanwhile, if any senator objects to the proposal, procedural hurdles would prevent the measure from clearing the Senate and reaching the House until Oct. 15 — two days before the Treasury Department’s deadline.

Several Republican senators left the door open to supporting a “clean” debt-limit bill, but said it would depend on whether Democrats were willing to enter talks on broader budget reforms.

The Post story includes one big caveat: “But senior GOP aides said any debt-limit proposal in the House is likely to need significant conservative sweeteners to be considered.”

House Republicans are meeting Tuesday morning to go over their strategy on the debt ceiling. The Obama administration and Democrats also signaled Monday they might accept a shorter term increase.

The Associated Press breaks down the legislative options with an explainer Q-and-A of the procedural — and sometimes — arcane rules hampering the process.

On Monday’s NewsHour, Kwame Holman rounded up the latest and Judy Woodruff spoke with Robert Costa of the National Review. He outlined what sorts of conversations are playing out among House Republicans behind the scenes.

Watch the segment here or below:


The Supreme Court hears arguments in a major case on campaign finance regulations Tuesday morning, kicking off day two of the 2013-2014 term with a case that could mirror the landmark Citizens United decision of 2010.

This case is called McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. It asks whether an individual should face limits on the number of campaign contributions he or she can give in an election cycle to candidates and their campaign organizations. In campaign finance lingo, that total amount one can give is an aggregate cap on donations. It’s different from a base case, the limit an individual can donate to a single candidate or campaign organization.

The case hinges on campaign finance structures put in place to prevent corruption, which were upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision and reiterated in the 2002 campaign finance law now known as McCain-Feingold. Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama conservative activist, and the Republican National Committee ask the court to reassess the constitutionality of the cap. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell supports McCutcheon too, and his own lawyers will argue before the court Tuesday.

There are arguments that donating to a campaign is the same thing as free speech.

Former FEC chair and Center for Competitive Politics founder Bradley Smith puts it this way in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:

Starting with the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, however, American political discourse has been blanketed with ever-increasing government regulation. By the summer of 2007, political speech was more heavily regulated than at any time in U.S. history. All this was done in the name of preventing “corruption” and fostering “confidence in government.” Yet confidence in government today is lower than it was in 1974, not coincidentally the year President Nixon resigned. …

Campaign-finance “reformers” overlook that the First Amendment — protecting the right to unfettered political speech — is the constitutional solution to the problem of government corruption. It is the means by which confidence in government is maintained. People speak. Citizens listen. Corruption and ineptitude are exposed. Voters vote.

On the other side, liberal groups as well as 85 House Democrats have signed onto briefs that argue against McCutcheon. Their side says lifting the aggregate limits will allow individuals to circumvent the base donation limits by giving money to many similar groups that work together. They also say donations to too many candidates could curry favor across elected offices, inviting corruption.

Here’s Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s take, in a September speech:

If the court continues in the direction of Citizens United, we may move another step closer to neutering Congress’ ability to limit the influence of money in politics and another step closer to unlimited corporate contributions given directly to candidates and political committees.

Academic Lawrence Lessig, working with the liberal-leaning Constitutional Accountability Center, pulled together this Tumblr with quotes from the Founding Fathers and submitted it to the justices. Lessig argues that the founders had broad fears of corruption. (You may have heard of Lessig before, for his work on digital intellectual property rights.)

Despite both conservative-leaning Justices Clarence Thomas’ and Antonin Scalia’s preference for looking at original words of the founders to interpret law, FEC supporters admit it unlikely they’ll get their votes. Instead, many will watch conservative-leaning Chief Justice John Roberts, who some say cares about precedents and judicial restraint to maintain the court’s integrity despite this court writing activist opinions.

(In an interesting sidebar, the Center for Public Integrity found that McCutcheon may have crossed the base amount he could have contributed to one group in a year.)

Ray Suarez previewed the term Monday night with Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal. The talked about the McCutcheon case, as well as closely watched cases on abortion and prayer in government.

Watch here or below:


  • A new Politico poll released Tuesday found Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli by nine percentage points – 44 percent to 35 percent – in the Virginia governor’s race. Libertarian nominee Robert Sarvis is at 12 percent in the survey. In a head-to-head matchup, McAuliffe bests Cuccinelli 52 percent to 42 percent.

  • Bloomberg’s Julie Bykowicz and Amanda J. Crawford report the shutdown is costing $160 million per day.

  • Politico’s Jonathan Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown has details on Vice President Joe Biden being left out of shutdown discussions.

  • The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reported that GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California asked to be removed from a list of Republicans who would back that “clean” legislation.

  • Costa had a candid Q-and-A with Nunes.

  • The Washington Post found a woman with a rare form of cancer whose treatment is on hold due to the shutdown.

  • The Hill’s Emily Goodin tracks a side effect of the shutdown in the Capitol: the trash is overflowing.

  • Biden is scrapping a planned campaign event for Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Senate campaign the final week of the election, the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Memoli reports.

  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political action committee is running ads to back Booker, Bloomberg News reports.

  • But guess who isn’t out there backing GOP nominee Steve Lonegan? The Senate Conservatives Fund, notes former National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee top aide Brian J. Walsh.

  • Former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke announced Monday she would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker in next year’s election.

  • Stuart Rothenberg cautions poll readers: “The House is not in play now, and we will need to wait until after the current legislative fights are resolved to see whether the outlook for the 2014 House elections has changed dramatically one way or the other.”

  • Politico’s David Rogers has the latest on the stalled farm bill

  • The Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker reports on an odd story emerging from the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina: “The Raleigh Police Department conducted undercover surveillance at meetings of the North Carolina chapter of the NACCP held to organize mass protests of the Republican-led state legislature, Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown confirmed Monday night.”

  • ABC’s Jordan Fabian notes that the GOP’s outreach to Hispanics has struggled to take hold.

  • Reuters’ Patrick Rucker and Jeff Mason reported Monday that the president’s top adviser on energy and climate change, Heather Zichal, will soon step down after serving five years in the administration.

  • A House Armed Services Committee attorney will be special envoy for the Defense Department to close Guantanamo Bay military prison, the Miami Herald reports. The State Department already has in place a similar position.

  • Check out the new Benjamins entering circulation Tuesday. The $100 bill has new security measures including raised ink, a blue ribbon and color-changing ink. (And yes, the Federal Reserve isn’t shut down because it funds itself, independent of Congress.)

  • Former D.C. political reporter San Youngman’s debut column at his hometown paper is all about returning to Kentucky.

  • Interesting event alert: the World Bank on Friday morning will host a conversation about gender-based violence and why reducing it would help reduce poverty.

  • The former presidents have been asked to keep their remarks on the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in line with the spirit of the historic speech. That means short.

  • Sorry, dinosaur fans!

  • BuzzFeed confirms the obvious: Capitol Hill bars have been packed with government staffers drowning their furloughed sorrows in booze.

  • The San Francisco Chronicle gets California Gov. Jerry Brown to open up about being bald. No, really.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • Cindy Huang reported on D.C.-area graduate students whose green-home entry in the annual Solar Decathlon will be donated to a wounded veteran. Watch her piece here or below.


Katelyn Polantz and Politics Desk Assistant Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

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

Follow the politics team on Twitter:

Editor’s note: When this report was first published, we had incorrectly identified the reporter of the Politico story on Vice President Biden. Jonathan Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown wrote that piece.

The Latest