The U.S. government shutdown continues with no clear end in sight, but the political debate has now pivoted to the debt ceiling limit and whether or not the government will run out of money to pay its bills by Oct. 17, and therefore default on its debt.
Check here for the latest updates on all the political jostling and practical impacts.
House Democrats have been invited to a meeting at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, a White House official said, in the first in a series of meetings with groups of lawmakers in coming days to focus on the government shutdown, budget stalemate and raising the debt limit to avoid a default.
The meetings come as Republicans accuse President Obama of not negotiating with them over the budget.
The House Democratic Caucus will meet at the White House at 4:30 p.m. and the meeting will be closed to the media. Senate Democrats, House Republicans and Senate Republicans will be invited for similar meetings in the coming days, the White House official said. The official was not authorized to be quoted by name.
From Congressional reporter Paul Kane:
With barely a week until the next big deadline — when the federal government runs the risk of not being able to meet its debt obligations — Congress appears to be preparing for several more days of partisan posturing accompanied by no signs of negotiations to solve the ongoing fiscal crises.
Instead, House Republicans and Senate Democrats will be continuing down separate legislative paths Wednesday, as each chamber considers bills on separate fiscal crises.
From The Fix’s Sean Sullivan:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wasn’t impressed by President Obama’s remarks on the shutdown Tuesday. “What the president said today was, if there is unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk to us,” Boehner said.
The thing is, it might be Boehner’s best and only option for ending the standoff that has seized Washington.
From the Federal Eye’s Steve Vogel:
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki is warning that the government shutdown has harmed efforts to reduce the disability claims backlog, and threatens compensation payments for millions of veterans.
“The momentum achieved over the past six months has now stalled with the government shutdown,” Shinseki said in prepared testimony he is scheduled to deliver Wednesday before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. A copy of his testimony was obtained by The Washington Post.
A U.S. Marine died on duty in Helmand province, Afghanistan on Monday, one of 21 soldiers who have died since the shutdown started, according to the Defense Department.
But until the lapse in federal funding ends, the families of deceased military personnel cannot expect to receive the “death gratuity” of $100,000 the Defense Department deposits in their bank account within 24 to 36 hours, defense officials said.
It was an ugly Tuesday for indicators of the likelihood the United States will crash into the debt ceiling and default on its debts. The moves in key markets were enough to push Wonkblog’s Daily Default Dashboard into “Getting kind of scary” territory for the first time.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who often opposes GOP leadership on key votes, is the latest Republican to express support for a so-called “clean” continuing resolution that passed in the Senate.
“I wish we would pass a clean CR,” Jones told MSNBC’s Suzy Khimm. “People are beginning back home to feel it. It might be imaginary, but they feel it.”
Jones is one of the more libertarian-leaning Republicans in the House, but his district includes a large military installation, Camp Lejeune.
Jones makes 22 House Republicans who support a clean CR, after several House Republicans backed off previous statements of support.
The bill still appears to have majority support (200 Democrats plus 22 Republicans), though House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has suggested that it doesn’t and has declined to bring it to a vote.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is up with shutdown-themed Web ads against a series of House Democrats.
The ads note an anonymous White House official’s comment in The Wall Street Journal last week that the Obama administration was “winning” the shutdown debate and it didn’t care how long the shutdown lasted as long as it emerged victorious.
Here’s the add being run against Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.):
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Wednesday echoed comments by other Republicans that failing to meet the debt ceiling deadline next Thursday wouldn’t result in default or even economic catastrophe.
In fact, Coburn even suggested he would like the debt ceiling deadline to be breached, saying a “managed catastrophe” would be good for a country that has repeatedly put off tough decisions on government spending.
“I’d rather have a managed catastrophe now, which I don’t think will be there,” Coburn said on CNN. “Here’s the thing that all the media does: default equals not raising the debt ceiling. That’s not true. … Those are two different and distinct things. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pay our bills. What I’m saying is we should put ourselves in the position where we have to start making hard choices now.”
In a new op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says current budget and debt ceiling negotiations should focus on entitlement and tax code reform.
Ryan, who has thus far been relatively quiet in the budget debates (given his status as House Budget Committee chairman), appears to be seeking some middle ground between the GOP’s insistence on Obamacare reforms and the White House’s no-negotiation stance.
In fact, Ryan only make a passing reference to “a complete rethinking of government’s approach to health care” — something he says could be accomplished later.
“We have an opportunity here to pay down the national debt and jump-start the economy, if we start talking, and talking specifics, now,” Ryan wrote. “To break the deadlock, both sides should agree to common-sense reforms of the country’s entitlement programs and tax code.”
Ryan noted that the budget deficit is projected to grow over the next decade and suggests some specific changes.
“We could ask the better off to pay higher premiums for Medicare,” he said. “We could reform Medigap plans to encourage efficiency and reduce costs. And we could ask federal employees to contribute more to their own retirement.”
Notably absent from that list: Ryan’s previous proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program — something Democrats pillories him for when he was the GOP’s vice presidential nominee last year.
Ryan says his proposal doesn’t constitute a “grand bargain.”
“But right now, we need to find common ground,” he said. “We need to open the federal government. We need to pay our bills today—and make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow. So let’s negotiate an agreement to make modest reforms to entitlement programs and the tax code.”
In order for any of this to happen, though, Ryan notes that President Obama has to “come to the table.”