Updated at 8:43, 8:57 and 11:07 am, 1:20, 2:15, 2:58, 3:52 and 3:58 pm EDT
With Amanda Gordon of Bloomberg Muse reporting on a senator’s night out.
It was B-Day (for Budget) in the Senate.
It will soon be D-Day (for Decision) in the House.
First came a vote to advance a temporary budget to passage shortly after noon today — 60 senators were needed for consideration, and the Senate voted 79-19 . Next came a vote to adopt a budget with the House’s “Obama-care” ban stripped out of it. That required just 51 votes for approval, and the Senate voted 54-44 for a $986-billion bill funding the government through Nov. 15.
The budget returns to a Republican-run House admamant about “defunding” the president’s signature health-care law.
Lawmakers have less than four working days left, including the weekend, to reconcile the Senate’s plan with the House’s plan.
* * *
“The United States Congress has two pressing responsibilities — pass a budget on time and pay our debts on time,” President Barack Obama said today. “The good news,” he said, is that the Senate has “acted responsibly.”
“Now it’s up to the Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same,” he said in a statement delivered from the press briefing room of the White House as he was announcing progress in talks with Iran over its nuclear program. “The House Republicans are so concerned about appeasing the Tea Party that they’ve threatened to shut down the government” unless his health-care plan is blocked, he said. “That’s not going to happen.”
Even if the government shuts down, the president noted, the new health-care exchanges operating under the Affordable Care Act will be open for enrollment on Oct. 1. “That’s a done deal,” Obama said.
“A lot of what’s taking place right now is political grandstanding,” he said. “But this grandstanding has effects on real people.”
* * *
After the budget standoff is resolved, Obama said, next comes the necessity of raising the nation’s debt limit.
“We’re not going to do this under the threat of blowing up the entire economy,” the president said. Voting to raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit is not “doing a favor ” for him, he said — rather an obligation the Congress has to pay the bills for commitments it already has made.
Even the temporary budget that cleared the Senate today funds the government only for another couple months, he noted. They’ll be back here approving another budget soon.
“I’m sure the American people are thrilled about that,” he said.
His closing message to Republicans: “Do not burn the house down.”
* * *
The House plans to go into session this weekend.
House Republicans still don’t have a plan for avoiding a shutdown of non-essential government services scheduled to start Oct. 1 as the Senate prepares today to pass a short-term spending bill and challenge the House to act.
House leaders haven’t determined how to respond to the Senate bill funding the government through Nov. 15, according to a Republican leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity — as Bloomberg’s Richard Rubin, Roxana Tiron and Kathleen Hunter report today. The Senate is poised to pass a bill without Republican-backed provisions to defund President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law.
“House Speaker John Boehner’s efforts to shift his members’ focus to the next fight — over raising the debt limit — were set back yesterday,” they reported. “Some House Republicans objected to Boehner’s tactic of holding a quick vote on the his debt-limit plan, instead preferring to fight longer on the spending bill. Boehner’s repeated revisions of his strategy show the difficulties he has in getting House Republicans to unite behind any particular approach. That internal party dynamic — along with Democrats’ unwillingness to accept major changes to Obamacare — makes the path to avoiding a shutdown difficult to see.”
“There is not an eagerness among the conservatives in the House to jump into a trillion-dollar debt ceiling increase discussion right now, especially when you have a real legislative fight over Obamacare already ongoing,” said Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action for America, a small-government group. “It makes a ton of sense to see how that plays out.”
Concerns that the budget impasse will hurt economic growth helped send the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its first weekly decline since August. The S&P 500 fell 7, or 0.5 percent, to 1,691.13 at 11:05 am in New York. The benchmark 10-year Treasury notes headed for their longest weekly winning streak since April. The 10-year yield dropped three basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, to 2.62 percent at 10:03 a.m.
Today’s Senate votes begin a weekend of negotiation and brinkmanship that could continue until spending authority expires at the end of Sept. 30.
Boehner said yesterday the House wouldn’t pass a “clean” spending bill after the Senate acts and then said he has “no interest in seeing a government shutdown.” “There will be options available to us, there’s not going to be any speculation about what we’re going to do or not do, until the Senate passes their bill,” he said.
Starting today, Republicans will hold a 232-200 House majority, and can lose only 15 members on a party-line vote.
* * *
“Given the political risks that come with a prolonged political ping pong match,” as ABC News puts it and notes, “Boehner was questioned whether he concedes that the government is headed for a shutdown next week.”
“No, I do not,” he insisted. “No, I do not expect that to happen.”
Despite showdown, John Boehner doesn’t expect government shutdown: http://t.co/YclwnHSLUt
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 27, 2013
* * *
The fight has “given the nation high blood pressure,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, said this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The freshman congressman also has another take on the debate: Fellow Texan Ted Cruz, the Republican senator who held up the Senate for nearly 20 hours with a speech against “Obama-care” and then joined the full Senate in voting to advance the budget to debate, pledged in his election campaign to change Washington.
Cruz has, Castro says:
Ted Cruz said he would go to Washington and change Washington. He has — he’s made it worse.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) September 24, 2013
* * *
Not everyone was glued to their desks this week.
“Thank you for giving me a few moments to think about something other than Ted Cruz,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, at the Atlantic Council’s Global Citizenship Awards Dinner in New York last night.
On holding the distinction of being the youngest current member of the Senate, at 40, Murphy said: “That is a very low bar.”
He said he had made the trip to help honor the president of Poland, Bronsilaw Komorowski. “I have an Irish name, but I actually have more Polish than Irish stock,” Murphy said. “My great grandfather came over from Poland to work in the factories of New Britain.”
He”ll soon be visiting Poland as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations subcommtitee on European Affairs.
Meanwhile, he was happy to get out of Washington for the night, having put on his tuxedo on the Acela.
* * *
A “shutdown” of non-essential government services would reduce fourth-quarter economic growth by as much as 1.4 percentage points depending on its length, economists say, as government workers from park rangers to telephone receptionists are furloughed.
Bloomberg’s Jeanna Smialek & Ian Katz report that Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics Inc. estimates a three-to-four week shutdown would cut growth by 1.4 points. Moody’s projects a 3 percent rate of growth in the fourth quarter without a closure.
A two-week shutdown starting Oct. 1 could cut growth by 0.3 percentage point to an annualized 2.3 percent rate, according to St. Louis-based Macroeconomic Advisers LLC.
“What we have is a political and not economic maelstrom,” says Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at Economic Outlook Group LLC in Princeton, New Jersey. “What everyone is watching right now is if the uncertainty is affecting consumer and business psychology, that they are postponing spending until they get more clarity about what’s going to happen in Washington.”
* * *
The White House’s tack, for the moment, is touting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, with its insurance exchanges opening to the public for enrollment on Oct. 1, the day that non-essential government services shut down if there is no budget deal.
As Bloomberg has reported, the health-care program, largely financed by mandatory spending, will go on regardless.
See the Treasury Department’s white board on “Obama-care:”
* * *
There’s no disguising the frustration at the WH over avoiding a Government shutdown without defunding ObamaCare.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 27, 2013
Amanda Gordon reports for the arts and entertainment section, Bloomberg Muse