Congress: Tilting at windmills

Roll Call: “Unable to find the votes for a strategy that only superficially defunds Obamacare, it now appears the House GOP may pursue the plan that tea-party-inspired members have been clamoring for — a stopgap spending bill that will actually defund the health care law but keep the rest of the government running.”

“House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are playing the last cards in their hand — and they’re most likely losers,” Politico writes. “The House Republican leadership’s decision to try to defund Obamacare this week in its government funding bill, and their promise to wage a no-holds-barred fight to delay the health care law as part of the debt ceiling fight, is a double-barreled strategy that could set Boehner, Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the House Republican Conference up for two big defeats.”

Los Angeles Times: "The federal deficit has shrunk to its lowest level since 2008, according to a report released Tuesday, but House Republicans will begin the next budget battle this week with a vote that threatens to shut down the federal government unless President Obama agrees to halt his healthcare law. The deficit has dropped from its peak at the start of the Great Recession and is on track to decline even more thanks to an improving economy, higher taxes on the wealthy and reduced federal spending, the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded."

Washington Post: "The threat of a government shutdown intensified Tuesday as House Republican leaders moved toward stripping funding from President Obama’s landmark health-care initiative and setting up a stalemate with the Democratic Senate. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had hoped to keep the government open past Sept. 30with relatively little fuss. But roughly 40 conservatives revolted. After a strategy session Tuesday, Boehner and his leadership team were being pushed into a more confrontational strategy that would fund the government into the new fiscal year only if Democrats agreed to undermine Obama’s signature legislative achievement."

David Nakamura: “House leaders said they will hold a policy meeting Thursday on issues important to the Latino community, including immigration, and they released a video to mark the start of Hispanic Heritage Month this week. But the video made no mention of immigration, and some lawmakers who support of a comprehensive overhaul said they fear the clock is running out as Congress and the White House turn to an extended debate over the budget and debt ceiling. Advocates said they will keep pressure on the House, including a rally and concert on the Mall on Oct. 8 featuring a performance by Grammy-winning Latin group Los Tigres del Norte. Organizers expect the two-hour concert to draw tens of thousands of people to Congress’s doorstep, an important visual symbol that can add cultural weight to the political movement.”

Roll Call: "Sen. David Vitter’s push to eliminate health care benefits for lawmakers and staff may finally get a vote this week, but few on either side of the aisle seem happy about it. The Louisiana Republican’s lonely push to prohibit lawmakers and staff from keeping their health benefits in the new Obamacare exchanges held up the Senate for nearly a week. The stakes are high for Capitol Hill, and senior aides on both sides of the aisle fear a brain drain if staffers lose their benefits. The vote also could hold political peril given that senators would have to vote to save their own benefits as well if they vote down Vitter’s amendment."

NBC’s Carrie Dann and Kasie Hunt: “A day after a mass shooting left 13 dead within two miles of the Capitol, federal gun legislation is in the same place as it’s been for months: stalled in Congress. Still stung by an April defeat in the Senate, discouraged proponents of gun control legislation say that the chances for change are still dim, even as new calls for reform echo in the wake of the Navy Yard massacre.”

And when “Top Chef” comes to Washington. “Tom Colicchio — the head judge on the ‘Top Chef’ television show who runs his own restaurant empire — will bring his talents to the nation’s capital on Tuesday. But don’t expect a Washington restaurant from him anytime soon. Mr. Colicchio is here as a board member of Food Policy Action, which rates members of Congress based on how they vote on food policies,” the New York Times writes