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Live updates: The Showdown

Negotiations to end the U.S. government shutdown were moving in fits and starts as the political debate pivots to the debt ceiling limit and whether or not the government will run out of money to pay its bills by Oct. 17.

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Government shutdown: What’s open, what’s closed

Video: Reid: Collins's plan is 'not going to go any place'

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) addressed the shutdown during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Saturday, saying Susan Collins’s plan to end the shutdown and extend the debt ceiling is “not going to go any place.”

It’s time for stocktaking by GOP leaders

Dan Balz writes:

Sometimes polls state the obvious. Sometimes they surprise. The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal and Gallup polls, which landed in the middle of the government shutdown late last week, did both.

Everyone knew that the shutdown and threats of a government default would damage the political standing of all parties in the Washington drama. That was obvious. What was surprising was the amount of damage that was done in so short a time — and especially to the Republican Party, whose tactical mistakes led to the shutdown, soon to enter its third week.

Read the full story here.

Obama: 'Manufacturing crises to extract massive concessions isn't how our democracy works'

During his weekly address, President Obama discussed his meetings with members of Congress and continued to urge Congress to reach an agreement to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

“Manufacturing crises to extract massive concessions isn’t how our democracy works, and we have to stop it. Politics is a battle of ideas, but you advance those ideas through elections and legislation — not extortion,” Obama said.

House adjourns, full focus now on Senate

The House of Representatives adjourned for the weekend on Saturday without voting on a measure to re-open the federal government or raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Attention is now focused squarely on the Senate where negotiations between leaders are on-going and several proposals are being considered.

A frustrated House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in an afternoon press conference that he would not ask House Democrats to stay in town over the weekend unless votes are called. None were expected and a spokesperson in Hoyer’s office confirmed that Democratic members were leaving Washington.

The next scheduled votes in the House are set for 6:30 p.m. on Monday.

Meanwhile, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) tweeted that the Senate “will…be in session tomorrow.”

“We aren’t going anywhere till we get this worked out,” McCaskill said.

Reid and McConnell launch discussions over proposal to raise debt ceiling, end shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have launched discussions over a proposal to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, after talks between House Republicans and President Obama reached an impasse.

The fact that the leaders are now directly engaged in talks suggest an intensifying bipartisan desire to end the fiscal impasse that has kept the government shuttered for nearly two weeks and raised the risk of a historic default later this month.

Reid and McConnell met Saturday morning with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a meeting that came at McConnell’s request, according to a source familiar with the talks.

The launching point for the discussions is a proposal by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to fund the govenrment and raise the debt ceiling into early next year. The plan might also include minor modifications to the Affordable Care Act and budget changes that could appeal to members of both parties.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said Democrats want a longer increase in the debt limit than in the Collins plan — which authorizes borrowing until Jan. 31 — because her bill would  “cast a pall over the holiday shopping season.”

Durbin said Democrats are also uunhapppy with the adjustments proposed to the Affordable Care Act — which includes a delay in a tax on medical devices and new auditing of federal subsidies for individuals who purchase health insurance — but that talks continue to find some options that both parties can accept.

Crowley and Republican staffer exchange words

Jackie Kucinich reports:

As the hours of the shutdown stretched on, tempers flared on the House floor between Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and a member of Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s staff.

Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper initially told reporters Crowley had a physical altercation with Republican floor director Chris Vieson; Crowley later explained that he was upset by the Republican staffer’s conduct on the House floor and said he had not touched him.

“He had come to our side and was yelling across the aisles that they were shutting down the debate and pulling the bill…and I had said to him then that, ‘the staffer is shutting down democracy’ and he said ‘that’s right,’” Crowley said.

Crowley said he told Vieson his conduct was inappropriate and that Vieson agreed and apologized.

Cooper agreed that the matter had been put aside. ”Everyone has talked and everything is all good,” Cooper said in an email.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters it was a case of frustrations boiling over. “This staffer is a good person, he got a little exercised,” Hoyer said.

Senate rejects debate on Democratic plan to raise debt ceiling

The Senate, as expected, on Saturday rejected debate on a Democratic plan to raise the federal debt ceiling for over a year, with no strings attached. The party-line vote failed to meet the 60 vote threshold needed to hold a vote on the proposal.

Glenn Beck, Sen. Mike Lee at FreedomWorks' #FixUpDC rally

Conservative media personality Glenn Beck, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), were seen picking up trash on the National Mall at FreedomWorks’ Fix Up D.C. rally this morning. Trash has been piling up since the federal government shutdown began. Here are some photos from Twitter:

Bipartisan sightings from the Senate gallery

During a procedural vote in the Senate early Saturday afternoon, reporters in the gallery could witness a taste of bipartisan relations that has been missing from the public discourse over government funding bills and negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the former “Saturday Night Live” writer and cast member, could be seen milling about the floor, stopping to laugh with a number of Republican colleagues including Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

On his way into the chamber to cast his vote, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stopped midway down the center aisle to put his arm around Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and chat with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who were standing alongside her.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sat with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Democratic Party leadership. Schumer at moments looked slightly exasperated, shaking his head and making small, outward gestures with his hands. Despite the apparent disagreement, the discussion appeared to be cordial.

The bipartisanship did not extend to the vote at hand, which would have cleared the way for a subsequent vote to raise the debt ceiling until 2014.

Today’s vote failed nearly along party lines.

Video: Public disapproval of Congress hits all-time high amid shutdown

The Grand Canyon is expected to reopen Saturday along with a few other national parks, but that’s not likely to improve people’s opinion of Washington. A new poll shows 83 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its business.

House Democrats signing discharge petition

According to Drew Hammill, press secretary for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats have been signing a discharge petition for about two hours.

As of 11:30 a.m., it has 186 signatories.

If 218 lawmakers sign the petition (presumably 200 Democrats and 18 GOP), the petition could eventually clear the way for a vote on the House floor on a clean continuing resolution to reopen the government.  So far, Speaker Boehner has refused to allow such a vote, but the discharge petition might provide a procedural way to bring the vote to the floor without Boehner’s blessing, if a majority of members sign.

Will this deal end the shutdown?

Ezra Klein writes on Wonkblog:

For all the excitement over the talks between House and Senate Republicans and the White House, the discussions aren’t very specific. As one House GOP aide says, “It’s negotiations about having more negotiations.” Meta-negotiations, if you will.

Strangely, though, just talking has made everyone feel a bit better. House Republicans felt disrespected by President Obama’s refusal to negotiate. They thought he was dismissing their constitutional role. Their anger has eased now that they’re in discussions.

Read the full post here. 

Fleming: House GOP unified, Senate plan is 'very problematic'

In the clearest portrayal yet of Saturday morning’s House GOP conference meeting, Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said the Senate plan to re-open the federal government and raise the debt ceiling is doomed, and said his party is “more unified now than ever before.”

“The deal that we understand they’re offering would be very problematic,” Fleming said.

The three-term congressman said that everybody in attendance was “100 percent on board. Not even one word against what our current position is.”

Fleming, a member of the tea party caucus, added “there is definitely a chance” that the House will not pass a debt limit increase by October 17. That’s the day that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says his department will run out of “extraordinary measures” to keep the government’s bills paid.

And yet less than a week from that deadline, Fleming said that contingency plans for what would happen should the deadline come and go “didn’t come up.”

“Republicans will continue to move in the same direction and that is to pass piecemeal continuing resolution,” Fleming said, though he later questioned that strategy saying “it’s going to appear as though we’re negotiating with ourselves.”

The House has passed more than a dozen such resolutions that fund specific areas of the federal government; all have died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Radel and Price say the WH is moving the goal posts

Jackie Kucinich reports:

Several House Republicans were defiant as they left the conference meeting Saturday morning and accused the White House of continuously changing their demands and ultimately locking them out of the process.

“Our leadership is being shut out of the White House, our leadership is being told one day by the president ‘I’m here to talk with you, I’m here to negotiate, I’m here to find solutions’ and then he stands up and says ‘there’s nothing negotiable,’” said Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.).

“It’s like talking to a brick wall.” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said, President Obama “refuses to take yes for an answer. He refuses to accept basically what was his offer initially,” Price added.  ”We’ll see, hopefully he’ll wake up this morning a little smarter and observant to what is actually been proposed.”

Scott Rigell confronts Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the hall

As tensions rise in the Capitol, Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) angrily confronted Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) in a hallway after a closed-door Republican meeting, demanding to know how GOP leaders plan to resolve the fiscal stalemate.

“If Eric Cantor and John Boehner can’t answer the questions, ‘what are we fighting for–that’s not good!”” Rigell told Rodgers, who is the fourth ranking Republican in the House.

“We’re on the same page, but we need to be able to articulate specific objectives,” he continued, his voice rising, as he jabbed his finger in the air to make the point, before an aide came over to suggest the two continue the conversation in private.

Rigell has been one of the leading Republican voices urging the GOP to pass a measure to reopen the government, even without getting significant changes to Obamacare in return.

“I’m hopeful for any rational, responsible alternative to the situation we’re in right now,” he told reporters shortly before the his huddle with Rodgers. “There’s real economic pain being experienced not only in my district but across the country. This situation we’re in is not without consequence.”

Kerry reassures embassy employees they will get paid

Anne Gearan reports:

Secretary of State John F. Kerry jokingly reassured U.S. Embassy employees in Kabul that they will get paid, eventually.

“So on behalf of President Obama, the American people, thanks for putting up with the hardship of a yearlong out here,” Kerry said Saturday.

“I promise you that those of us in Washington, when the government opens up again, we’ll get you all the money in the world, get you paid.” As the crowd at a meet and greet laughed, Kerry  added, “Don’t despair!”

Boehner: Negotiations between House GOP and Obama have ended

House Republicans were told by Speaker John Boehner Saturday morning that negotiations between the House GOP and President Obama have ended, with Obama’s rejection Friday of the House’s latest offer.

At a closed door meeting in the basement of the Capitol, Boehner urged members to “hold firm,” several said, even as Senate Republicans work to negotiate their own proposal to end the impasse. House members expressed anxiety about the senate talks. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said house leaders were only briefed on a proposal being circulated by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Saturday morning and were opposed to it. He said the reasons for opposition were too many to enumerate.

Blizzard, lack of Farm Bill threatens South Dakota cattle ranchers

Reid Wilson writes on GovBeat:

A massive storm that dumped more than four feet of snow on parts of the Black Hills in South Dakota last week has killed tens of thousands of cattle — and thanks to a delay in reauthorizing the farm bill in Congress, ranchers have nowhere to turn for relief.

Ranchers across western South Dakota are still digging out from the blizzard, one of the earliest in memory. The fact that the storm came so early in the season meant the livestock hadn’t grown their winter coats. In many cases, officials said, the extent of their losses aren’t yet known; cattle are buried under snow drifts, and some may have wandered miles away from their normal grazing grounds.

Read the full story here.

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