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More tough talk in shutdown stalemate

Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner dug their heels in further Tuesday, trading verbal barbs at dueling press conferences as the federal government remained closed and the threat of a potential U.S. default grew more acute.

During his lengthy appearance at the White House, the president reiterated his willingness to discuss broader budgetary matters with Republicans, including changes to his health care law, but only after GOP lawmakers agreed to vote on proposals to end the shutdown and raise the country’s debt ceiling.

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“I’ve shown myself willing to go more than halfway in these conversations. And if reasonable Republicans want to talk about these things again, I’m ready to head up to the Hill and try. I’ll even spring for dinner again,” Mr. Obama said. “But I’m not going to do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issue threats about our economy. We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy. Democracy doesn’t function this way.”

The president also signaled he would be open to a short-term deal that would give lawmakers time to work out a broader compromise. “If they can’t do it for a long time, do it for the period of time in which these negotiations are taking place,” he said.

Boehner rejected the offer during a press availability on Capitol Hill a short time later.

“What the president said today was, if there is unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk to us. That’s not the way our government works,” the speaker said.

Boehner said he agreed with the president that the borrowing limit needs to be increased, but Republicans would do so only if the move was accompanied by spending cuts.

“The long and short of it is, there is going to be a negotiation here,” the Ohio Republican declared. “We can’t raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what’s driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means. The idea that we should continue to spend money that we don’t have and give the bill to our kids and our grandkids would be wrong.”

As the shutdown entered its ninth day Wednesday, both sides considered options for addressing the stalemates over the budget and the debt ceiling.

In the Senate, Democrats were preparing to move forward with a vote on a bill to increase the debt limit through the end of 2014.

House Republicans, meanwhile, floated the idea of forming a supercommittee to negotiate an end to the shutdown and lift the borrowing limit.

The White House announced late Tuesday the president would veto the working group plan, urging lawmakers to approve a spending bill and a debt limit increase without other provisions attached.

(Both Roll Call and The Hill have pieces Wednesday recalling the bad memories from the supercommittees a few years ago.)

GOP lawmakers in the House also planned to move forward with additional smaller-sized spending measures to fund parts of the government, in an attempt to shield the party from public anger over the shutdown. A new survey from the Associated Press found that Republicans are taking the majority of the shutdown blame from the American people, reflecting results from other surveys released in recent days.

Watch Kwame Holman’s report on the day’s events here or below:

Watch the president’s statement in full here or below:

As the process for avoiding default plays out, the focus will shift, for Wednesday at least, to the president’s nomination of Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve Bank. Mr. Obama is scheduled to make the announcement from the White House at 3 p.m. ET.


As we previewed Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments about a case that could change the caps on individual political donations. The NewsHour examined the issue in depth Tuesday, starting with National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle. She explained the legal discussion in the courtroom and the options justices can consider. Watch:

Then Judy Woodruff moderated a debate between Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Rep. David Price, D-N.C. It was sometimes feisty, and illustrates the divide between the parties on campaign finance issues. Watch:

During his news conference Mr. Obama weighed in on the case, saying a ruling for the conservative side would go further than Citizens United.

“I mean, essentially it would say anything goes; there are no rules in terms of how to finance campaigns,” the president said. “There aren’t a lot of functioning democracies around the world that work this way, where you can basically have millionaires and billionaires bankrolling whoever they want, however they want — in some cases undisclosed. And what it means is ordinary Americans are shut out of the process.”

He added that Democrats “aren’t entirely innocent of this in the past” and “there’s nobody who operates in politics that has perfectly clean hands on this issue.” He added:

And I continue to believe that Citizens United contributed to some of the problems we’re having in Washington right now. You have some ideological extremist who has a big bankroll and they can entirely skew our politics. And there are a whole bunch of members of Congress right now who privately will tell you, I know our positions are unreasonable, but we’re scared that if we don’t go along with the tea party agenda or some particularly extremist agenda that we’ll be challenged from the right. And the threats are very explicit, and so they toe the line. And that’s part of why we’ve seen a breakdown of just normal, routine business done here in Washington on behalf of the American people.

And all of you know it. I mean, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know — because it’s very explicit. You report on it. A big chunk of the Republican Party right now are in gerrymandered districts where there’s no competition, and those folks are much more worried about a tea party challenger than they are about a general election where they’ve got to compete against a Democrat or go after independent votes. And in that environment, it’s a lot harder for them to compromise.


  • The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin, Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar report that the administration had a good idea the health care websites would be faced with problems in the opening days of the exchanges.

  • The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman sees some in the GOP who aren’t too worried about defaulting.

  • The CIA is calling back thousands of furloughed employees, and a major salmonella outbreak led the government to recall a dozen food experts back to work.

  • D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is worried about the shutdown hurting the city over the long term.

  • At an immigration rally Tuesday in Washington, Democratic Reps. John Lewis of Georgia, Charles Rangel and Joseph Crowley of New York, Luis Gutiérrez and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Keith Ellision of Minnesota, Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Al Green of Texas were arrested along with an estimated 200 others.

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not rule out a 2016 presidential bid during a debate with Democrat Barbara Buono Tuesday.

  • The “nuclear option” could be making a comeback. Politico reports that Democrats may consider “going nuclear” if Senate Republicans threaten to filibuster a debt limit increase.

  • Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner notes that Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia may be the first Democrat to break ranks on the debt ceiling issue.

  • For the outrage files: gyms used by members of Congress at the Capitol are open with limited staff during the shutdown. But the politicians do have to pick up — and re-use — their towels. Don’t forget, some lawmakers sleep in their offices and shower there.

-The Wall Street Journal outlines Treasury’s payment schedule after Oct. 17.

  • Maybe that’s one reason Democrats are using Sen. Ted Cruz in their 2014 election material, as Time’s Zeke Miller reports.

  • Democratic Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn raised $1.7 million in the first quarter since announcing she was running in Georgia.

  • The Associated Press reports that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane “are separately seeking to be released as defendants in a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s gay-marriage ban.”

  • Four counties in Utah have declared a state of emergency in response to losing an estimated $300,000 in per day as a result of the government shutdown.

  • Added to the fallout of the shutdown, consider this release to hit our inbox Tuesday. “The Amputee Coalition regrets that due to the continued federal government shutdown and the closing of the National Park Service, it is forced to cancel its youth camp fundraising event. The Kicking For Kids Who Can’t Kick-a-thon was scheduled for Saturday, October 19 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.”

  • USA Today’s Paul Singer wrote about his road trip across the country. Here’s the six lessons he learned.

  • Stay classy and chat up Ron Burgundy, America.

  • And on the flip side, the Weiner Monologues play is starting in New York.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • NewsHour producer Mary Jo Brooks found a town in Colorado hit with a “double whammy” of the floods and the shutdown:


Politics Desk Assistant Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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

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