Back to where we started … There is still a chance a shutdown is averted with a very temporary clean continuing resolution, but it’s Boehner’s choice … The debt ceiling consequences are even worse and it’s looming big time … The blame game: GOP complains Obama’s not “talking” to them, but what would “talking” accomplish? … Yes, members are raising money off the shutdown … The OTHER big story: Obama meets with Netanyahu – what message does he send publicly about Obama speaking to Iran? … DOJ sues N.C. over voting rights – Holder speaks at noon … A new NBC News/Kaiser poll on health care.
*** Back to square one with hours to go until a shutdown: No one has blinked in the congressional standoff between the House and Senate, as the government is just hours away from shutting down. If there is no last-minute breakthrough, the government will shut down at midnight tonight. Over the weekend, the House rejected the Senate's temporary, no-strings attached funding measure, a clean continuing resolution that would keep the government open until Nov. 15. The House once again added anti-health care measures – a one-year delay of the law and a repeal of the medical device tax. The Senate is promising to once again reject both add ons today by passing the same clean CR it passed Friday when it comes back into session after 2:00 pm ET today.
In this 1995 file photo, a Park Service Police Officer stands in front of closed signs at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, during a partial shutdown of the federal government.
*** Like Dumb and Dumber, “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance…”: While the Washington chattering class is convinced that a shutdown is inevitable, the fact of the matter is it isn’t. Like where we have been all along, Republican Speaker John Boehner has a choice -- it will come down to whether he brings to the floor a clean CR or the government will shut down. A Republican leadership aide didn’t have guidance on whether Boehner would do just that, but put the odds of a shutdown at just “50/50.” That leaves open the possibility that the House will pass something very short term, perhaps a week or two CR or something like that. When there’s time on the clock, you’re never done. For as many conservatives as you have wanting to stick to their guns, there have been many other Republicans speaking out against the strategy – with no fear of retribution, mind you. Boehner’s still in the same box he’s been in because Democrats control the Senate. A Senate Democratic leadership aide said, “There's no out for them. We can strip any changes they make with a simple majority and no opportunity for filibusters. They are checkmated; the only question is whether they will toss the board. They either have to pass our clean CR or force a shutdown.” The question is can Boehner do it without losing his speakership? He may be in a stronger position than people realize, because he likely won’t get punished for simply buying time.
*** The bigger looming disaster – the debt ceiling: Will rank-and-file Republicans buy a last-minute argument that, “We’ve exhausted every option, and this isn’t the fight to have?” And move onto the debt ceiling? It’s possible, but that could be even worse for the country. While some 800,000 federal workers are threatened with seeing their checks cut off tonight, the need to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 would be a gut-punch to the U.S. economy and send markets reeling. Seeing Republicans dug in on this issue, some liberals hope a shutdown will break the GOP fever, but what evidence is there of that? A White House official told First Read that the president is not reconsidering ways around Congress on the debt: "Only Congress can raise the debt limit. Period. We have said coin and 14th Amendment aren't workable.” There’s such a gap of understanding between both sides. President Obama has said over and over and over that he “won’t negotiate” over the debt ceiling again. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan doesn’t believe him. "Oh, nobody believes that,” he told National Review over the weekend. “Nobody believes that." But this White House feels very confident in their position that they now look back and think they maybe made a mistake negotiating on it before. It’s going to be interesting watching the markets today. How badly do the markets react to what’s happening in Washington? They could play more of a role today than people realize. If they tumble, that could have bigger implications for Oct. 17. But if they don’t…
*** Can’t we just talk? All over the Sunday shows members of both parties were pointing fingers at the other, and – in full anticipation of a shutdown – Republicans are trying to blame President Obama for it by saying he’s not meeting with them, and he’s more willing to speak to the leader of Iran. But reasonably, what would change if the president was talking every second of the day to Boehner, Ted Cruz or whoever else at this point? Obama doesn’t want to change the health-care law; Republicans want to gut it, delay it, change it, etc. Frankly, what’s there to talk about? And how is health care germane to cutting off checks to federal workers or threatening the country with default, but we digress? What does the president do? In the White House’s mindset – nothing because they see anything related to health care as extortion. And their mindset is, “Who are we negotiating with?” They don’t think Boehner is fully calling the shots here. He’s doing whatever it takes to keep the conference united, and that’s his struggle.
*** Fundraising around the shutdown:Anna Palmer in Politico wraps all the fundraising emails that have hit our inboxes on the shutdown. Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) sent a fundraising email out; Paul Ryan (R-WI) lent his name to an email for the RNC and Prosperity PAC; Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager sent an email out about how against the health care law the minority leader is and included a contribute link; Senate Majority Leader Reid accused Republicans of “Anarchy,” and urged supporters to sign a petition; Obama also Friday urged supporters to sign a petition; OFA offered “people a chance of having their name on BarackObama.com as long as they contribute $5, or more.” There’s nothing that makes the stench of politics even more stinky than using a crisis to raise money.
*** Obama’s day and the story that would otherwise be grabbing all the headlines: Days after the president said he spoke to Iran’s president -- the first time an American president has done so in more than 30 years, President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House at 11:15 am ET. They then hold a working lunch at 12:20 pm ET. And then after that, the president convenes a meeting of his Cabinet at 4:45 pm ET, right smack dab in the middle of when the action will be on the Senate side. How public will he make his concerns about Iran or does he hold his tongue and essentially back the president publicly? Netanyahu has never been shy about making messages publicly.
*** DOJ sues N.C. on voting rights: The Charlotte Observer: “The U.S. Department of Justice will file a lawsuit Monday to stop North Carolina’s new voter ID law, which critics have said is the most sweeping law of its kind, according to a person briefed on the department’s plans. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has said he will fight state voting laws that he sees as discriminatory, will announce the lawsuit at noon Monday, along with the three U.S. attorneys from the state. Critics said the law will disenfranchise African-American and elderly voters, while the Republican-led General Assembly in Raleigh said the law will protect the state’s voters from potential fraud."
*** On health care, Americans are confused and angry:NBCNews.com: “Americans remain deeply divided on the Affordable Health Care Act, with half confused about how it works or worried about how much it will cost them,” an NBC News/Kaiser poll shows. More: “Twenty-nine percent said they were angry about the ACA, compared to just 24 percent who described themselves as enthusiastic.”
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First published September 30 2013, 6:22 AM