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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.

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

 

Obama signs bill to ensure payments to families of dead soldiers

The White House announced Thursday night that President Obama has signed a bill that ensures the Department of Defense can pay death gratuities and related survivor benefits to the families of military service members who die in the line of duty.

On Wednesday, the Defense Department had reached an agreement with the Fisher House Foundation to make the payments and get reimbursed once the shutdown ends. Congress’s action apparently means that arrangement will no longer be required.

Another poll shows Cruz struggling

Similar to the new Gallup poll, tonight’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) big move toward a national profile hasn’t gone well.

The poll shows 14 percent of Americans have a positive opinion of Cruz, while twice as many — 28 percent — have a negative one.

And Cruz has hardly become a conservative hero following his 21-hour, filibuster-esque speech in favor of defunding Obamacare. Just 7 percent have a strongly positive view of him, while about three times as many — 20 percent — have a strongly negative one.

Video: Today's shutdown speeches in 2 minutes

From Boehner to Reid and Lew to Carney, updates on the government shutdown and debt ceiling battle were everywhere today. Here are the highlights in less than two minutes.

With Sarah Parnass.

Some parks to reopen, as long as states pay

The Obama administration said Thursday it will allow some shuttered national parks to reopen, according to the Associated Press, as long as states use their own money to pay for park operations.

From the AP:

Governors in at least four states have asked for authority to reopen national parks within their borders because of the economic impacts caused by the park closures. All 401 national park units — including such icons as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite and Zion national parks — have been closed since Oct. 1 because of the partial government shutdown. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed, and lawmakers from both parties have complained that park closures have wreaked havoc on nearby communities that depend on tourism.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the government will consider offers to use state money to resume park operations, but will not surrender control of national parks or monuments to the states. Jewell called on Congress to act swiftly to end the government shutdown so all parks can reopen.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said his state would accept the federal offer to reopen Utah’s five national parks.

Obamacare gains in popularity despite woes

From Wonkblogs’s Ezra Klein:

Despite the awful launch, Obamacare is becoming more popular, according to the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this evening.  Last month, 31 percent of respondents said it was a good idea and 44 percent said it was a bad idea. This month, 38 percent think it’s a good idea and 43 percent think it’s a bad idea.

Read Wonkblog’s full take on the poll.

Republican reaction: 'Good faith negotiations with the president'

From Brendan Buck, press secretary for House Speaker John A. Boehner:

This evening in the Roosevelt Room, the leaders laid out the House proposal to temporarily extend the debt limit, formally appoint budget negotiators, and begin immediate discussions over how to re-open the government. No final decisions were made; however, it was a useful and productive conversation. The President and leaders agreed that communication should continue throughout the night. House Republicans remain committed to good faith negotiations with the president, and we are pleased there was an opportunity to sit down and begin a constructive dialogue tonight.

WSJ/NBC poll: Republican Party at all-time low

The public’s view of the Republican Party has hit an all-time low in 24 years of Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling, with just 24 percent of respondents viewing the party positively. The tea party also hit an all-time low in the poll.

In the new poll out Thursday, Speaker John A. Boehner also got his highest negative rating since the Journal started measuring his popularity. In all, 42% of Americans hold a negative view of him, up from 37% in January, while just 17% hold a positive view, the Journal reported.

Nearly a third of Americans are negative toward Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), up from 28% in January.

President Obama’s numbers were actually up a bit, with 47% viewing him positively compared to 45% in September.

Of the poll respondents who know Sen. Ted Cruz’s name, 28% now hold a negative view of Cruz, up from 12% in May, the poll found.

White House: No deal reached with GOP yet

The White House described President Obama’s conversation Thursday afternoon with House Republican leaders as a “good meeting,” but said no deal was reached to reopen the government.

“After a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made,” the White House said in a statement to reporters. “The President looks forward to making continued progress with members on both sides of the aisle.”

Obama’s meeting with about 20 House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), lasted about 90 minutes. Obama was accompanied by Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors. The White House statement said the administration officials “listened to the Republicans present their proposal,” adding that Obama’s goal remains to both raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government.

From the White House press office:

The President had a good meeting with members of the House Republican Leadership this evening; the meeting lasted approximately an hour and a half.  The President, along with the Vice President, Treasury Secretary Lew, Denis McDonough and Rob Nabors listened to the Republicans present their proposal.  After a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made.  The President looks forward to making continued progress with members on both sides of the aisle.  The President’s goal remains to ensure we pay the bills we’ve incurred, reopen the government and get back to the business of growing the economy, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class

Ryan: Obama 'didn't say yes. He didn't say no.'

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) told reporters after the White House meeting that talks would continue as well.

He rebuffed characterizations that President Obama had rejected the House proposal for a six-week extension of the debt ceiling.

“Well, he didn’t say yes. He didn’t say no,” Ryan said. “We’re continuing to negotiate this eventing,” Ryan said.

Cantor: Conversations will continue into the evening

Returning to the Capitol after the White House meeting with President Obama to discuss a Republican proposal for a six-week debt limit increase, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the gathering had been “a very useful meeting.”

“It was clarifying, I think, for both sides as to where we are,” he said, indicating that conversations would continue into the evening.

Obama met with 20 Republicans from the House, led by Speaker John A. Boehner. The group included senior Republican leaders and several committee chairmen.

“The take away from the meeting was, our teams are going to be talking further tonight. We’ll have more discussion. We’ll come back to have more discussion. The president said he would go and consult with the administration folks. And hopefully we can see a way forward after that,” Cantor said.

How bad has the shutdown been for you?

The government shutdown has had widespread impact – from furloughed federal employees to closed national parks. We want to hear  how intensely the shutdown has affected you. Click below to add your comment, see where the shutdown is hitting the hardest, and read about people’s experiences with the shutdown across the nation.

Click here to add your comment.

Competing proposal to end shutdown emerges in Senate

House Speaker John A. Boehner’s proposal for a six-week extension of the debt limit fell flat in the Senate Thursday evening, where members of both parties were clamoring to end the government shutdown, now in its 11th day.

As the House prepared to vote on Boehner’s proposal Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was holding meetings with his rank and file to develop a competing proposal to re-open the government and raise the federal debt limit for as long as three months.

The package was being assembled by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) and has attracted the interest of Senate Democrats, sparking the first bipartisan negotiations since the stand-off began in early September.

“I was surprised that the House decided to deal only with the debt limit and not with the continued closure of government,” Collins said Thursday. “I think that we have to deal with both issues and we need to do so quickly.”

Senate Democrats were intrigued by Collins’ proposal, but unhappy with its demand for Democratic concessions. Those include repeal of a tax on medical devices needed to fund the new health care initiative and new income verification procedures for people who receive tax subsidies to buy health insurance on the law’s new exchanges.

In addition, Collins’ proposal would maintain deep cuts known as the sequester through  at least March. Though it would grant agencies flexibility to decide where the cuts would fall, the sequester remains a red flag for the White House and many Democrats, who want to restore funding for domestic programs.

Nine ways the shutdown will get more painful

From Wonkblog’s Brad Plumer:

What would happen if the shutdown dragged on without resolution for six more weeks, which is the amount of time House Republicans have proposed for a debt ceiling extension. Things would get a lot more painful for more people. Federal employees deemed “essential” would start missing paychecks. Millions of veterans wouldn’t receive benefits. States would continue sending their employees home and cutting programs for the poor.

Here’s a partial timeline of how the shutdown would evolve if it went on for weeks.

Cruz and Lee both suffer in the polls

The two highest-profile leaders of the GOP’s Defund Obamacare effort have taken a significant hit in the polls.

A new Gallup poll shows Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is viewed favorably by 26 percent of Americans, versus 36 percent who view him unfavorably.

In June, a less-well-known Cruz was still in positive territory, with a 24 percent favorable rating and an 18 percent unfavorable rating. In other words, his unfavorable rating has doubled, while his favorable rating has risen just two points.

Cruz’s top partner in the Defund Obamacare effort, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), has seen a similar drop — in his home state, at least. A new Brigham Young University poll shows Lee with a 40/51 favorable/unfavorable split, versus a 50/41 split in June.

Congress as a whole has taken a hit during the shutdown, so it’s not terribly surprising that an individual politician would lose some ground.

But Cruz and Lee have been the most public faces of the Defund Obamacare movement — which polls show most Americans oppose and the vast majority hoped wouldn’t risk a government shutdown to get what it wanted. And the polls show Cruz and Lee have seen bigger increases in their unfavorable ratings than congressional leaders have.

House GOP leaders now meeting with Obama

The meeting is underway, according to a pool report.

Those who were scheduled to attend are:

Elected Leaders

  • Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)
  • Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
  • Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
  • Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore).
  • Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.)
  • Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.)
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)
  • Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.)
  • Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.)
  • Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.)

Chairmen

  • Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
  • Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.)
  • Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
  • Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.)
  • House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.)
  • House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.)

Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) are also attending, according to an updated pool report.

The Hastert Rule's role in the shutdown (Video)

The Hastert Rule is a big reason the government is still shut down.

Essentially, it’s why the House isn’t voting on the Senate’s “clean” continuing resolution — even as it looks like the House could pass a clean continuing resolution if a vote were allowed today.

But what, precisely, is the Hastert Rule, and where did it come from?

I’ve got your answers in this week’s Political Dictionary:

Dow closes up more than 300 points

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which hopped up 200 points at the start of trading today, closed the day up over 300 points — nearly recovering all the ground it has lost since the start of the shutdown last week.

The Dow closed over 15,000, at 15,126.

The markets appear to have recovered as a result of the House GOP’s move toward a six-week debt limit hike — a proposal that Democrats seem at least somewhat amenable to.

The Dow’s jump was more than 2 percent. The Nasdaq and S&P also jumped up more than 2 percent.

'Gerrymandering didn't cause the shutdown'

Here’s another take on the debate between Paul Kane and me on The Fix earlier this week.

From Bloomberg View:

In fact, the accepted view that politically based redistricting led to our state of intransigence isn’t just incorrect; it’s silly.

The real reason for our increasingly divided political system is much simpler: The right wing of the Republican Party has embraced a fundamentalist version of free-market capitalism and succeeded in winning elections. (The Democrats have moved to the left, but less so.)

The Republican shift is the result of several factors. The realignment of Southern white voters into the Republican Party, the branch of conservative activism created by Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign and the party’s increasingly firm stance on issues such as income inequality and immigration, can all be important to Republicans’ rightward shift.

The “blame it on the gerrymanders” argument mistakenly assumes that because redistricting created more comfortable seats for each party, polarization became inevitable. Our research, however, casts serious doubt on that idea.

Many districts are safe for one party or the other because of how Americans have sorted themselves geographically — choosing to live closer to people who are politically or culturally like-minded. In Florida, for example, Palm Beach County will be reliably Democratic and the Panhandle will consistently vote for Republicans. These geographic shifts mean that state legislatures, which approve congressional district lines, can tweak but not fundamentally alter the ideological makeup of Congress.

Update 3:46 p.m.: And be sure to check out Jonathan Bernstein’s take on PostPartisan.

Reid: No negotiations without ending shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), emerging from a nearly two-hour meeting with President Obama, said Senate Democrats would not negotiate with House Republicans over the budget until the government is reopened.

“Not going to happen,” Reid told reporters when asked whether Democrats would enter negotiations amid a continuing government shutdown.

Reid added, “The government should be open now, we should be able to pay our debt, and we’ve said and will continue to say if that happens we’ll negotiate on anything – anything – and the president confirmed that today.”

But Reid said Senate Democrats would consider supporting a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling.

“We are going to look at anything they send,” Reid said, referencing the short-term proposal House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) outlined earlier Thursday. “Let’s just wait and see.”

Reid addressed reporters from the front portico of the West Wing alongside Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). They and the Senate Democratic Caucus met with Obama for roughly one hour and 30 minutes.

'Gerrymandering didn't cause the shutdown'

Here’s another take on the debate between Paul Kane and me on The Fix earlier this week.

From Bloomberg View:

In fact, the accepted view that politically based redistricting led to our state of intransigence isn’t just incorrect; it’s silly.

The real reason for our increasingly divided political system is much simpler: The right wing of the Republican Party has embraced a fundamentalist version of free-market capitalism and succeeded in winning elections. (The Democrats have moved to the left, but less so.)

The Republican shift is the result of several factors. The realignment of Southern white voters into the Republican Party, the branch of conservative activism created by Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign and the party’s increasingly firm stance on issues such as income inequality and immigration, can all be important to Republicans’ rightward shift.

The “blame it on the gerrymanders” argument mistakenly assumes that because redistricting created more comfortable seats for each party, polarization became inevitable. Our research, however, casts serious doubt on that idea.

Many districts are safe for one party or the other because of how Americans have sorted themselves geographically — choosing to live closer to people who are politically or culturally like-minded. In Florida, for example, Palm Beach County will be reliably Democratic and the Panhandle will consistently vote for Republicans. These geographic shifts mean that state legislatures, which approve congressional district lines, can tweak but not fundamentally alter the ideological makeup of Congress.

Update 3:46 p.m.: And be sure to check out Jonathan Bernstein’s take on PostPartisan.

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