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With shutdown over, GOP looks inward

Visitors check out the newspaper pages at the Newseum as the federal government reopens. Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If Thursday was back to business in Washington, Friday is back to normal.

Budget conferees charged with crafting a long-term plan in less than two months to avoid another fiscal standoff come January shared bagels and cream cheese and pledged to work together to find “common ground.”
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President Barack Obama took a victory lap of sorts, scolding Republicans in Congress for putting the nation through a tumultuous month, saying that the American people rightfully are “fed up with Washington.”

Top Republicans who recognize the damage done to the party over the last few weeks gave confessional interviews to reporters assessing the GOP’s future, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged there would not be a repeat of this fight.

“One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid 1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days,” the Republican leader told “The Hill” newspaper. “There is no education in the second kick of a mule. There will not be a government shutdown. … I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is.”

Sen. Ted Cruz took a different lesson from the exercise, telling ABC’s Jonathan Karl that he was prepared to relitigate the debate over the Affordable Care Act in the next budget battle.

“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” Cruz said.

(Be sure to read Politico’s recap of the shutdown fight, which includes fresh anecdotes of how frustration with Cruz among his Senate GOP colleagues escalated in recent weeks.)

And House Republicans announced a hearing next Thursday to examine the problems with the rollout of the health care exchange websites, which had been eclipsed in the news by the shutdown and debt ceiling fights. The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin notes that even Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter’s attempt to deny subsidies to lawmakers and their aides will be revived. From her story:

“I guarantee it will be back,” Vitter said on Fox News. “I’m not going away, and this issue is certainly not going away.”

More broadly, Republicans have begun to reposition the issue as a referendum in the 2014 midterm elections. Speaking on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) said Wednesday night that Republicans will make a strong case against the health-care law next year when “the realities of the law are going to begin to impact people.”

“There is going to be an all-out revolt in this country over that,” he said. “And that is, I think, the moment to absolutely act and say we are going to get rid of this law and then look for opportunities in the future to replace it.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed Vitter and his proposal in an interview with the Huffington Post. “‘David Vitter is a, um … he just is not playing with a full deck. Something is wrong there,’ Reid said, pointing to his head,” report Sam Stein and Ryan Grim.

At least for now, Republicans appear to be in a weakened state heading into the 2014 midterms given the political damage incurred from the shutdown battle. The Cook Political Report wrote Thursday that it was changing its ratings in 15 House races, “all but one in the Democrats’ direction.”

At the White House Thursday, the president outlined his goals for the remainder of the year, including immigration reform, a farm bill and a long-term budget deal. But if there was to be progress on those or any other issues, Mr. Obama said lawmakers would need to jettison the brinkmanship that led to the shutdown.

“You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position,” the president said. “Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it. Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what this country is about.”

After weeks of almost non-stop partisan warfare, there will likely be a lull at least for a few days, with the House returning next Tuesday, and the Senate not back until the end of the month.

The NewsHour reported Thursday on the government getting back to work. Watch the segment here or below:

Judy Woodruff also interviewed Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell and talked with two economists about the lasting effects of the 16-day shutdown.

Then Jeffrey Brown took a step back for a historical and philosophical discussion about how we got to this point and if divided government is working exactly as the founders intended. Eric Liu joined him from the left, Steven Hayward weighed in on the right and Beverly Gage outlined how political movements have long shaped the nation.

Watch here or below.


Gwen Ifill interviewed Cory Booker, fresh off his Senate victory. He will not be sworn in until after the Senate returns from recess on Oct. 28.

She noted it’s not the best job to be starting amid such a nasty crisis, and the Newark mayor said he knows, “we can do better.”

“I think you and I both know that one senator, especially now the 100th in seniority, won’t necessarily walk down there and everybody will be spitting sunshine and rainbows,” Booker said.

Does he view himself in the Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz model of a freshman? Watch here or below to find out.

And Chris Geidner reports for Buzz Feed that Booker will begin marrying same-sex couples Monday amid an ongoing legal challenge.


  • Mr. Obama will nominate Jeh Johnson as the next Homeland Security Secretary, to replace Janet Napolitano. New York Times reporter Charlie Savage had a 2012 post detailing Johnson’s role as a top Pentagon attorney.

  • The next jobs report — on hiatus because of the government shutdown — comes out Tuesday, the Labor Department said. It will cover September numbers. The October jobs report will be out Nov. 8.

  • Workers at the Bay Area Rapid Transit System in California are on strike in a labor dispute.

  • The Daily Beast spoke with the husband of Dianne Reidy, the stenographer whose House floor outburst about god and the free masons shocked colleagues Wednesday night. She hasn’t been sleeping and felt she had to deliver the message even if it meant a decorum breach, he said. And The Hill reports she won’t face charges for her actions.

  • The Washington Times reprinted a speech that Mr. Obama gave as a senator complaining about raising the debt ceiling.

  • Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi has a new tea party challenger who has backing from conservative groups.

  • A new NBC News/Marist poll of the Virginia governor’s race finds Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 46 percent to 38 percent. Other recent surveys have shown McAuliffe with a similar advantage ahead of the November election.

  • A Democratic pollster argued in a memo the health care fight is hurting the GOP.

  • Roll Call’s political team rounds up the most interesting House fundraising reports.

  • Newt Gingrich told Larry King, “[Speaker John] Boehner’s job is vastly harder than mine.”

  • Cruz is blocking the nomination of Tom Wheeler to lead the Federal Communications Commission.

  • Sam Youngman reads the tea leaves in a Sarah Palin Facebook post and raises the idea she could get involved in the Bluegrass State primary. “We’re going to shake things up in 2014,” Palin wrote. Youngman opined: “Given her endorsement record, it seems likely that Palin is suggesting she will get involved in the Kentucky Republican Senate primary between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.”

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is making it no secret they’ve picked sides in a Hawaii primary between appointed Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, sending out a memo from the Schatz team ripping his challenger’s campaign.

  • Mr. Obama postponed a planned fundraiser in Dallas due to the shutdown.

  • Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla. is gravely ill. An initial report that he had passed away was retracted Thursday.

  • I didn’t bring enough muffins,” Vice President Joe Biden said, greeting federal employees at the Environmental Protection Agency as they returned to work Thursday morning with handshakes, hugs, some words about the shutdown and, of course, muffins.

  • A country house in Marshall, Va., that Jackie Kennedy had designed and intended for President Kennedy’s use is on the market for almost $11 million.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • Hari Sreenivasan talked to Stephen Balkam of the Family Online Safety Institute and Jim Steyer of Common Sense Media about new privacy settings on Facebook for teens. Watch.

  • Ray Suarez reported on new technology that makes gun safety “smart.”

  • Our online team gave details about the “ridiculously cute” panda at the National Zoo, all realized when the Panda Cam came back online Thursday.

  • 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.


Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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

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