Updated at 10:51 am through 2:55 pm EDT
With Lisa Lerer reporting from the White House, Terry Atlas from the Senate
House Speaker John Boehner has been telling fellow Republicans that he won’t allow the U.S. to default on its debt, even if that requires Democratic votes, according to two Republican congressional aides.
Boehner has been meeting with Republicans privately as he and other party leaders seek to come up with a plan to end the partial U.S. government shutdown and raise the debt limit. Party leaders are trying to package other Republican priorities with a debt-ceiling increase for a vote as soon as next week, Bloomberg’s Heidi Przybyla, Roxana Tiron and Richard Rubin report.
“Speaker Boehner has always said that the United States will not default on its debt, but if we’re going to raise the debt limit, we need to deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said in a statement today. “That’s why we need a bill with cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again.”
Republicans have a 232-200 majority in the House, meaning that the party can lose 15 votes from party members on any measure without seeking Democratic support.
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There is persistent unemployment in the United States.
What it was last month won’t be known tomorrow — the first Friday of the month, the customary day for the Labor Department’s report on employment and joblessness, will go silent.
Because of the shutdown.
Bloomberg’s Victoria Stilwell reports that no alternative date has been set for the September report. The jobless rate slipped to 7.3 percent in August, down from 7.4 percent in July — when the government was open for business.
The federal government is currently shut down.
— US Labor Department (@USDOL) October 1, 2013
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The United States, a self-styled model for modern governance in the world, is getting some bad press from its partial government shutdown.
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today: “We are beginning to see editorials, which we understand they’re political, so we only take them so far, but in Sri Lanka where we have been pressing them very hard on democracy, governance and human rights, they wrote a very critical editorial today, you know, saying health care is a universal human right, and yet the United States can’t come to an agreement on it, so who are they to preach to us about accountability in governance.”
“It is clear now — the good governance advocates cannot govern themselves!” the editorial in the Daily News of Sri Lanka states. “The fact that this state of affairs is over universal health care for all citizens, something taken for granted in most countries, offers a rather accurate indication of what kind of democracy the United States is, and about what kind of quality of life the good governance principles that the ambassadorial pundits from that country regularly pontificate on engenders.”
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“The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.),” Dan Froomkin writes for the new cable news network.
“And holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. ”
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Among the 800,00 furloughed federal workers, many have left voice-mail messages and automatic e-mail responses, as they are generally not allowed to use either one while they are away.
There are “exceptions,” of course.
Like this auto-replay from one affected worker: “Thank you for your email. Although I am in the office today, due to a lapse in funding I may only perform certain “excepted” activities. If your message does not pertain to an “excepted” activity, I will not be able to respond to it until after funding has been restored. If your message pertains to an “excepted” activity, I will respond as soon as possible.”
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At least one lawmaker is cleaning up his quote trail today. Rep. Marlin Stutzman is among the House Republicans holding out for something in the debate with the White House over the budget standoff that has partially shut down the government. What, he wasn’t sure about the other day.
“We’re not going to be disrespected,” Stutzman said in an interview with the Washington Examiner Tuesday. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t even know what that is.”
His words were widely ridiculed, and cited again today by President Barack Obama, addressing an audience in Maryland.
In a statement issued today, Stutzman said: “Yesterday, I carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate and Speaker Boehner’s work on behalf of the American people. Despite my remarks, it’s clear that the American people want both parties to come to the table to reopen the government, tackle this nation’s debt crisis and stop ObamaCare’s pain.”
“That was a quote!” Obama told his audience today. “`We’re not going to be disrespected. We’ve got to get something out of this, and I don’t know what that even is.””
“Think about that. You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people. There’s no higher honor than that,” the president said. “If you’re being disrespected, it’s because of that attitude you’ve got, that you deserve to get something for doing your job.”
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The White House is saying the same thing publicly that it is saying privately about the president’s refusal to negotiate over his health-care plan in the government shutdown, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And the White House must not have “poll-tested” that message, fellow Kentuckian Sen. Rand Paul, has told the party leader.
McConnell was wired for a television interview with home-state WPSD when Paul, who had finished his own hit with CNN, approached him last night.
The open mic and camera caught it all: “I just did CNN and I just go over and over again, ‘We’re willing to compromise, we’re willing to negotiate,”’ Paul told McConnell.
“I think — I don’t think they poll tested, ‘we won’t negotiate.’ I think it’s awful for them to say that over and over again.”
“Yeah, I do too,” said McConnell, who had just joined the leaders of both parties in an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama, who insisted he will not negotiate over Republicans’ demands for delaying Obama-care in the government shutdown standoff over a stopgap budget, “and I just came back from that two hour meeting with them, and that was basically the same view privately as it was publicly.”
Paul said, “I think if we keep saying, ‘We wanted to defund it. We fought for that, but now we’re willing to compromise on this,’ I think they can’t — we’re gonna, I think — well I know we don’t want to be here, but we’re gonna win this, I think.” McConnell’s noncommittal nod is priceless.
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“We’ve all seen the offices locked down, monuments closed,” Obama said today, taking his public appeal to Congress to break the budget showdown to a small business in Rockville, Maryland.
National Parks would reopen immediately, federal workers worried about paying their car loans could return to work “right away,” he said, if the House would take a straight-up vote on a clean budget resolution.
“My simple message today is, call a vote. Put it on the floor and let every single individual of Congress make up their own minds,” he said. “The only thing that is keeping the government shut down… is that Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get to a yes or no vote because he doesn’t want to anger the extremists in his party.”
“We don’t have to twist anybody’s arms,” he said. This way, everyone would be clear about who’s behind the shutdown. “It should be that simple… Take a vote, stop this farce and end this shutdown right now.”
“Send me the bill, I will sign it, the shutdown will be over.”
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This is how you know things aren’t going well in Washington: The president met with the leaders of both parties in the Senate and House in the Oval Office of the White House early last evening. They had a few things to say when they came out:
“The president reiterated one more time tonight that he will not negotiate,” said House Speaker John Boehner, the Ohio Republican whose party insists on curtailing Obama’s health-care program as part of a stopgap budget to get the government out of its partial shutdown, near the close of Day Two of a stalemate idling 800,000 federal workers and closing national parks and much more of the government’s services. ”They will not negotiate… We had a nice conversation.”
“I thought we’d throw him a lifeline,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said of the House speaker, suggesting a budget conference on a longer-term spending plan. “And he says, ‘No, all I want to do is go to conference on a short-term (budget resolution).”’
“I thought that they were concerned about the long term fiscal affairs of this country,” Reid said. “My friend John Boehner cannot take yes for an answer.”
Which is what the House’s Democrats have been saying about Boehner for days as they have offered the speaker the Republicans’ spending level in exchange for a “clean” continuing budget resolution that doesn’t tamper with Obamacare. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California called the hour-and-a-half Oval Office session “a worthwhile meeting,” and said: “We had, shall we say, some candid discussion” — which is diplomatic talk for, some people got their feelings hurt.
The White House, rather than letting the president out to talk about the meeting, produced a “readout” of the meeting, which is what they do when they have no news to report.
“The president made clear to the leaders that he is not going to negotiate over the need for Congress to act to reopen the government or to raise the debt limit to pay the bills Congress has already incurred,” the read-out read. “The president reinforced his view that the House should put the clean government funding bill that has been passed by the Senate up for a vote — a bill that would pass a majority of the House with bipartisan support. ”
“The House could act today to reopen the government and stop the harm this shutdown is causing to the economy and families across the country,” the White House said. “The president remains hopeful that common sense will prevail, and that Congress will not only do its job to reopen the government, but also act to pay the bills it has racked up and spare the nation from a devastating default.”
Boehner was touting the House’s passage of a limited budget for popular agencies like the national parks, a bill that Obama would veto as “piecemeal” and irresponsible.”
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Which brings us to Day Three:
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Which brings us to Lady Gaga.
Forty million Twitter followers received a message yesterday from the pop star: “It’s time to #GetCovered at Healthcare.gov.”
We noted here in Political Capital that Lady Gaga is gaga over #Obamacare.
Within three hours, more than 6,600 Lady Gaga fans had re-tweeted the message to their own followers, sending it rippling further through the Internet as the online health insurance exchanges created by the law operated on their second day, Dorning reports.Seasoned by two presidential campaigns that broke ground in mobilizing support through social media, the Obama White House is bringing the full scope of its digital skills to bear on the debut of the linchpin of the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re trying to break out of the political space to reach people where they are, and we know that young people are spending a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram,” said Tara McGuinness, a White House communications adviser.
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For some time now, a few dozen Republicans intent on shutting down the federal government if the White House wouldn’t heed their demands for defunding, delaying or declawing Obamacare have ruled the House — preventing the chamber from voting on the “clean” spending bill the president is demanding and the Senate has passed.
Now, some of the House’s Republicans are coalescing around the idea of resolving this standoff. And Bloomberg’s Heidi Pryzbyla reports that, just as the speaker has been listening to the hold-outs, he is talking with the new group as well:
More than a dozen House Republicans who want to drop attempts to undermine the health-care law and reopen the government are meeting among themselves and with House Boehner — and he’s listening. For the past few weeks, Boehner’s hand has been guided by a group of Tea Party-aligned Republican House members who’ve urged little compromise in their three-year drive to undo the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Now, the agitation is coming from the other side of the caucus. A bipartisan group of about 40 House lawmakers are holding private talks to find a compromise to end the shutdown, said Representative Reid Ribble, a Wisconsin Republican.
At least 15 Republicans, including Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Peter King of New York, are pressing Boehner to call a vote on a Senate-passed spending bill free of Obamacare-related measures, Przybyla reports. Five of them met with Boehner before he and other congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House.
“There’s a group of us — Charlie Dent, myself and other pragmatists — that are just spit-balling some ideas” to “help leadership bring an end to this,” said New York Rep. Michael Grimm, who attended the meeting.
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Republicans insist it’s Obama who’s not listening.
Republicans have been trying to get Obama to the negotiating table and to back off his insistence on a short-term spending bill and debt-limit increase without policy conditions, Bloomberg’s Roxana Tiron, Kathleen Hunter and Richard Rubin report.
“Saying you won’t communicate guarantees you’re going to have a problem,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said today.
McCarthy said he sees the stalled spending bill that has led to a shutdown and the impending debt-limit fight ahead of the expected Oct. 17 expiration of the government’s borrowing authority merging into one debate. “I’d like to get one agreement and be done,” he said.
House Republicans are divided between hard-liners aligned with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who are insisting on confrontation over the health-care law, and at least 15 others who say they would support the Senate Democrats’ spending bill, which would end the shutdown without conditions attached.
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Then again, McCarthy’s been saying this for some time:
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Lady Gaga isn’t the only recruit in the White House’s campaign. The president met with financiers, including Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein yesterday, to court support for a lobbying force to convince the Congress that it can’t play politics over the debt limit.
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All eyes are on Boehner in this shutdown zone.
The government shutdown could end today. All it would cost is John Boehner’s speakership. http://t.co/Dn5eDEjf1T
— Post Politics (@postpolitics) October 3, 2013
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The difficulty of ending the first shutdown in 17 years stems from how much Congress has changed during that time.
Why is it so hard to end the government shutdown? http://t.co/Mjb8d4b6zt
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 3, 2013