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Live updates: The shutdown

Negotiations to end the U.S. government shutdown, now in its third week, were making significant progress in the Senate just days before the government exhausts its ability to borrow more money to pay its bills.

Check here for the latest updates.

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

Video: Throw the bums out? Not quite.

A new poll shows most Americans want to fire every member of Congress — but they keep re-electing them. What gives?

Ted Cruz hauls in $1.19 million in third quarter

From Matea Gold:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has been pilloried for his attempt to use a stopgap budget measure to undermine the Affordable Care Act, a maneuver that set in motion the current federal government shutdown and the crisis in Congress. But his role as a leader of the defund movement has only elevated his standing among conservative activists.

That’s clear in the latest fundraising report filed by his joint fundraising committee, in which Cruz reported raising nearly $800,000 in the third quarter. That’s almost double the amount that the Ted Cruz Victory Committee raised from April 1 to June 30, shortly after it was formed.

The Texas senator brought in additional funds directly through his Senate reelection committee and his leadership PAC in the last three months, giving him a total raise of $1.19 million for the third quarter, according to figures released Tuesday evening by his campaign.

Read the full post.

'Top Ten Reasons The Shutdown isn't All Bad'

From The Fix:

Stuck on the losing end of public opinion polls since the start of the government shutdown, at least some Senate Republicans think they’ve found some silver lining in a very dark cloud.

On the GOP section of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Web site, Republicans offered the David Letterman-style “Top Ten Reasons The Government Shutdown Isn’t All Bad.”  It apparently has nothing to do with stopping entitlements such as Obamacare, or shaving the national debt, or showing that conservative fiscal managers have backbone.

See the Top Ten here.

The Republican Party: A collection of tribes with no leader

From The Fix’s Sean Sullivan:

If the standoff over the federal budget and debt ceiling have reinforced anything about politics, it’s this: Today’s Republican Party is an assemblage of tribes with no real leader.

Read the full post.

Reid, McConnell move to pick up the pieces

The Senate leaders, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, have moved to pick up the pieces of the shattered House effort to move legislation to re-open the government and avoid breaching the debt ceiling, with aides to both senators expressing optimism a deal could be soon at hand.

“Senator Reid and Senator McConnell have re-engaged in negotiations and are optimistic that an agreement is within reach,” said Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Reid (D-Nev.).

“Given tonight’s events, the leaders have decided to work toward a solution that  would reopen the government and prevent default. They are optimistic an agreement can be reached,” said Don Stewart, spokesman to McConnell (R-Ky.).

Tonight's House vote canceled

“We are done for the night,” Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) just told the Washington Post’s Jackie Kucinich.

A number that should scare incumbents

From The Fix’s Chris Cillizza:

There’s a new number in a national Pew poll that should give incumbents who assume that people hating Congress will exempt them in the next election some pause.  That number? Thirty eight percent — as in 38 percent of people who say they do not want to see their own Member of Congress re-elected in 2014.  While that number is far lower than the 74 percent who say they would like to see most Members of Congress lose, it’s still the highest percentage wanting to get rid of their own member in more than two decades of Pew polling.

Read the full post here.

A simple timeline for the debt-ceiling crisis

From the Wonkblog’s Brad Plumer:

There’s been a fair bit of confusion about the timeline for the debt-ceiling crisis. The date Oct. 17 gets tossed around a fair bit as a hard deadline. But that’s probably not the date when we’ll see lots of financial disruptions if Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling.

The real crises are likely to occur a little later in October or early November. But even that’s not certain.

So click here for a rough timeline for the whole debt-ceiling fiasco.

Video: Could female lawmakers end the shutdown?

Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz partly blames gridlock on Capitol Hill for the lack of women leaders in Congress. Watch today’s full episode of In Play here.

House committee hearing postponed amid uncertainty

The House Rules Committee has postponed its hearing as support for Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) new plan appears to be in serious doubt.

Just prior to the postponement, the conservative outfit Heritage Action said it opposed the measure, and rank-and-file lawmakers normally supportive of leadership expressed alarm that they had shut down the government and would get nothing for it except a punitive measure hurting their own staff’s health care, according to GOP chiefs of staff.

Three leading conservatives — Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) — exited a meeting with Boehner’s leadership team all likely opposed to the legislation.

“I’ve got one vote and I’m a ‘no,’ ”  Massie said. Yoho also said he was a definite “no,” and King expressed deep reservations but left some chance of approving it if changes were made.

Boehner can only afford to lose 15 Republican votes out of 232, if all Democrats stand opposed to legislation, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has indicated.

Heritage urges a no vote on new House proposal

Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation, announced their opposition to the House plan Wednesday and announced that it would be a “key vote.”

The group said the plan did not do enough “to help Americans who are negatively impacted by Obamacare” and failed to stop “new entitlements” associated with the law that are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

The announcement puts additional pressure on conservatives who may have considered supporting the plan as well as House Republican leaders who have been frantically counting votes since the proposal was unveiled Tuesday morning.

What Obama would rather be doing

The government shutdown and debt-ceiling fight could have a huge impact on what President Obama accomplishes before his term ends. The Post’s Karen Tumulty, Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis and radio host Mark Levine spoke with PostTV’s On Background about the agenda priorities Obama isn’t addressing while the spending battles continue.

Text of House proposal released

The text of the House proposal has been released. Here it is.

Fitch puts U.S. on notice for possible credit downgrade

On Tuesday, Fitch Ratings announced that it was accelerating its timetable for a potential U.S. credit rating downgrade, citing the brinksmanship in Washington. Fitch would become the second credit rating firm to downgrade U.S. government debt, which could have ripple effects across a range of markets.

“Political brinkmanship and reduced financing flexibility could increase the risk of a U.S. default,” Fitch said late Tuesday. “The U.S. risks being forced to incur widespread delays of payments to suppliers and employees, as well as Social Security payments to citizens — all of which would damage the perception of U.S. sovereign creditworthiness and the economy.”

Fitch’s decision doesn’t actually downgrade the United States’ credit rating, but serves as a signal that it might should the political situation continue to threaten the U.S.’s ability to pay its debts. The Treasury Department says it will run out of borrowing authority on Thursday — the deadline for Congress to come to an agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

“Although the Treasury would still have limited capacity to make payments after 17 October it would be exposed to volatile revenue and expenditure flows,” Fitch said. “The Treasury may be unable to prioritise debt service, and it is unclear whether it even has the legal authority to do so. The U.S. risks being forced to incur widespread delays of payments to suppliers and employees, as well as social security payments to citizens — all of which would damage the perception of U.S. sovereign creditworthiness and the economy.”

Toward the end of the also-contentious 2011 debt ceiling debate, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the United States’ long-term credit rating from ‘AAA’ to ‘AA+’. It was the first credit rating downgrade for the U.S. in history.

S&P earlier this year adjusted its outlook on the U.S. credit rating from “negative” to “stable,” but the credit rating remains at “AA+.”

Fitch, S&P and Moody’s are considered the three top credit rating agencies.

Here’s the release from Fitch.

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

Markets fell at end of day

Stocks tumbled in the final hour Tuesday as the House and Senate battled over measures to reopen the federal government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

All three major indexes closed near the day’s lows. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9 percent, the Standard & Poor’s dropped 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq tech index fell around 0.6 percent.

Markets lurched throughout the day, plunging in mid-afternoon when a planned vote on a House bill  began to unravel, recovering some and then heading into a closing drop even as the House began working on a new version of its bill.

House will vote tonight on new plan

House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office announced Tuesday that the House would vote Tuesday night on Boehner’s new plan for ending the government shutdown and raising the debt limit.

“The House will vote tonight to reopen the government and avoid default,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. “After listening to members at conference this morning, House Republican leaders will bring a plan to the floor which will end the Obamacare subsidies for elected officials and staff in Washington, D.C., and pressure Senate Democrats to accept more sensible dates for the CR and the debt limit.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said earlier Tuesday afternoon that Boehner would have to pass the bill with all GOP votes.

Here’s the new plan, via Lori Montgomery:

The measure would raise the debt limit through Feb. 7, as in the original proposal. But it would fund federal agencies only through Dec. 15, creating the threat of another government shutdown just before Christmas if lawmakers fail to resolve a dispute over deep spending cuts known as the sequester.

Republicans decided to drop their bid to repeal a tax on medical devices that helps to fund President Obama’s health-care law. But in addition to denying employer subsidies to lawmakers and members of the executive branch, conservatives insisted on denying those subsidies to their own congressional staffs as well.

Republicans also adjusted another proposal to make clear that the Treasury Department would be only temporarily barred from using extraordinary measures to juggle the books after the Feb. 7 deadline.

Free and reduced meals will continue

The U.S. Department of Agriculture notified states on Friday that the free and reduced meals served to students will continue to be served “for several months,” even if Congress fails to reach an agreement on the government shutdown.

Cynthia Long, the director of the Child Nutrition Division, sent a letter (which included a Q&A) to state agencies that are reimbursed for breakfast and lunches provided to students whose low-income families qualify for the subsidized meals.

Long said in the letter that the USDA made fiscal year 2013 “carryover funds” available to reimburse states for meals served in October. She said program operators had expressed concern about how services that would be provided in late October would be impacted “if appropriations are not enacted soon.”

For more on this story, head here.

Pelosi: House GOP plan won't get Dem votes

House Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just said the House Democratic caucus would be united against the House GOP’s revamped proposal to fund the government and extend the debt ceiling.

“If they continue on the path they’re on, they’ll need 100 percent Republican votes,” Pelosi said.

Furloughed FBI agents break up drug ring

From KGO-TV in San Francisco:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it has broken up an East Bay drug ring after raiding a half dozen locations and making several arrests Tuesday morning. They arrested 47 year-old Jorge Herrera.

Agents started began the raid at 6 a.m. and served warrants at six locations in four cities, including: Oakley, Concord and Antioch. They made four arrests, seizing methamphetamine and cocaine. The agents are actually furloughed employees, so they are not getting paid, but decided these raids couldn’t wait.

“Yeah, we thought that the treat (sic) was there. The threat being, in this case, the distribution of drugs, so we needed to stop this individual and organized crime ring here in the East Bay immediately. And that’s why we chose to do it today,” said FBI spokesperson Peter Lee.

Residents say they never saw suspicious activity around the Pittsburg home and didn’t know the man who was arrested here.

(emphasis ours)

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