The Washington Post: “With federal agencies set to close their doors in five days, House Republicans began exploring a potential detour on the path to a shutdown: shifting the fight over President Obama’s health-care law to a separate bill that would raise the nation's debt limit. If it works, the strategy could clear the way for the House to approve a simple measure to keep the government open into the new fiscal year, which will begin Tuesday, without hotly contested provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act.”
More: “With passage of the funding bill all but certain, Cruz’s talkathon accomplished little. The Senate is expected to approve the bill Saturday. That would give House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) barely 48 hours to pass the Senate version or respond with add-ons.”
And this: “The debt-limit measure, which was still being loaded with new provisions late Wednesday, amounts to a grand conservative wish list. … About the only major piece of the Republican agenda missing from the bill is a ban on late-term abortions — and some lawmakers who oppose abortion were arguing to add that, GOP aides said. By stuffing the bill with so many appealing provisions, GOP leaders hoped to persuade at least 217 Republicans to support its sole negative aspect: raising the $16.7 trillion federal debt limit through Dec. 31, 2014 — an increase worth about $1.1 trillion, by independent estimates.”
Robert Costa: “As the Senate moves toward a vote on a modified version of the House’s continuing resolution, House Republicans are plotting a response. But nothing has been finalized, and the leadership is treading carefully. At least that’s the message coming out of a closed-door meeting at the Capitol, where House Republican leaders huddled for an hour on Wednesday. According to sources in the room, the leadership is trying to avert a shutdown and rally conservatives for the debt-limit battle. To do both, they plan to fight until the eleventh hour on the CR, but eventually ask Republicans to fund the government and focus on the debt limit.”
Key portion: “The House leadership will unveil its debt-limit legislation on Thursday, hoping to stoke enthusiasm in the ranks. The reason for an early rollout: the leadership doesn’t expect an immediate embrace. As they talk up their debt-limit plan, the leadership will also try to get a CR through.”
Tim Alberta: “Conservative Republicans in the House appear ready to back off their demands that the short-term funding resolution Congress must pass to avoid a government shutdown also defund or delay Obamacare. In a shift that could spare John Boehner a damaging uprising from his majority's right wing, conservatives have begun to acknowledge their lack of leverage in the funding debate and are now coalescing around the House speaker's preferred strategy of forcing the White House to accept health-law changes by holding the debt ceiling hostage.”
Roll Call: “House Republican leaders are now in full flinging-spaghetti-at-the-wall mode as they float ideas for a spending bill that could win over enough of their rank and file to prevent a government shutdown. … But at this point, the differences between Republicans in both chambers are almost as numerous as the potential solutions being proposed and the outcomes they would achieve. Aides in both parties and chambers concede that once the Senate sends a bill to the House, the House will send something else back. The billion-dollar questions now are when that all happens and what that next House GOP product looks like.”
The Hill writes that lawmakers are considering a one-week continuing resolution and “Some lawmakers say a shutdown looks increasingly likely, because anticipated negotiations between Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have not yet happened.”
Wall Street Journal: "The government is closer to running out of money to pay its bills than previously thought, the Treasury Department warned Wednesday, clarifying the fiscal deadlines confronting Congress amid continued disarray on Capitol Hill. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the government would be left with just $30 billion cash on hand "no later" than Oct. 17, and the Congressional Budget Office predicted these funds would be used up between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31 if legislation isn't enacted to raise the ceiling on government borrowing."
Los Angeles Times: "The Senate easily overcame Wednesday’s first hurdle to a fizzling GOP strategy to strip funding for President Obama’s healthcare law in exchange for keeping the government running. Top Republicans are now for a new — more modest — way to chip away at the Affordable Care Act. Time is not on their side after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) monopolized the floor in his lonely filibuster-like campaign. Money for routine government operations is set to run out Oct. 1, unless Congress acts."
NBC News: "Arizona Sen. John McCain lit into Ted Cruz's marathon speech against Obamacare shortly after the Texas senator's 21-hour effort came to its conclusion on Wednesday. McCain, Republicans' 2008 presidential nominee, castigated the effort to use the specter of a government shutdown to defund Obamacare. But more pointedly, McCain sharply criticized Cruz for likening those who oppose defunding Obamacare to Nazi appeasers before World War II."
New York Times: "Some Republicans are beginning to complain more and more that with the help of outside, Tea Party-inspired groups, Mr. Cruz and others like Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky — both presidential prospects who battled alongside their colleague from Texas in the current health care fight — are leading conservatives to believe the current fight over cutting money for the health law is winnable when it is not."
Politico: "With his obviously doomed campaign this month against funding the Affordable Care Act, Cruz triggered a wave of vitriol from his fellow Republicans, who lampooned his outsized ego, over-the-top rhetoric and dubious legislative tactics. The avalanche of criticism both threatens Cruz’s status as a GOP golden boy – and strengthens his profile as a kind of tea party folk hero for whom Washington’s hatred is a badge of honor."
DNI Clapper and NSA Director Keith Alexander testify before Senate Intelligance at 2:00 pm ET. … The CBO’s Doug Elmendorf talks about the long-term budget outlook.
First published September 26 2013, 6:09 AM