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Live updates: The shutdown

October 7, 2013

The U.S. government shutdown continues with no clear end in sight. House Republicans continued to demand that the nation’s new health-care law be delayed or repealed and Democrats — including President Obama — were refusing to give in. The shutdown has now sent some 710,000 to 770,000 employees home across the country, delayed the paychecks of another 1.3 million “essential” workers, and shuttered numerous government functions.

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

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery has obtained a radio interview in which Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) says he would vote for a “clean” continuing resolution.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) says in a statement that he will “continue to vote for any legislation that keeps the federal government open” — presumably including a clean CR.

Cole and Reichert become the 22nd and 23rd House Republicans and 22oth and 221st members of the House who appear to support the clean CR — a growing majority.

Here’s our latest whip count:

  • Ed O'Keefe
  • ·

Any Republican attempt to amend the federal worker pay bill is likely to be met with opposition from Senate Democrats, especially those representing states with large federal worker populations.

Asked whether Republican senators should be able to amend the bill before a final vote, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) replied simply: “No.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said his colleagues need to quickly agree to pass the measure, considering the support it earned in the GOP-controlled House.

“It’s passed 407 to nothing in the House? This ought to be the commonsense solution at least to make sure that the workforce is okay,” Warner said.

Sen. Timothy Kaine (D-Va.) said that he would oppose allowing Republicans to amend the bill with their piecemeal proposals because “If we go down that path, I think they can shut government down every year.”

“The nice thing about the employee bill is that it’s for all employees. So the full government solutions I like, but the piecemeal approach actually increases the likelihood that this is going to keep happening,” Kaine said.

Other Republicans said they support retroactively paying federal employees.

“Oh sure,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said when asked.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said he also supports the measure, but was noncommittal on whether he’d join Cornyn’s push to amend the bill.

“I think we need to be working together to fund vital governmental functions. The House has passed eight bills… none of those issues implicate Obamacare in any way and I think it is unfortunate that President Obama and the Democrats are refusing to negotiate and are blocking the funding of vital government functions.”

  • Vincent Bzdek
  • ·

From Zachary A. Goldfarb, Neil Irwin and Darla Cameron:

The United States government will soon be unable to pay all its bills — causing what the Obama administration says will be a historic default on the federal debt. Without action by Congress to raise the debt ceiling, the Treasury Department says default could happen any day after Oct. 17. Nobody knows whether it will happen, but each day Wonkblog will offer an indication of how close we are to default, based on the financial markets.

Check today’s Daily Default Dashboard here.

  • Nicki DeMarco
  • ·

The Post’s Capitol Hill reporter Ed O’Keefe discusses the week to come on Capitol Hill as the shutdown continues, and the debt ceiling deadline nears. (In Play)

  • Ed O'Keefe
  • ·

A bill to retroactively pay federal employees furloughed by the government shutdown has hit a snag in the Senate, where some Republicans may seek to amend the legislation with other proposals thus far ignored by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the second-ranking Senate Republican, told reporters Monday that it would be “premature” to pass the legislation without addressing other aspects of the shutdown.

“It think it’s really premature to be dealing with that until we deal with the underlying problem,” Cornyn told reporters, according to his office. “We’ve offered a number of bills to try to alleviate some of the hardship, and … they’ve been swatted down out of hand.”

The snag in the pay issue was first reported by Roll Call.

The Republican-controlled House has passed a series of standalone short-term spending measures to fund various parts of the government, including the National Park Service, the National Institutes of Health and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It plans to pass several more this week to fund the Food and Drug Administration, national intelligence agencies and the National Weather Service, among other agencies and operations.

But only one of the bills passed by the House – to continue paying active-duty U.S. military troops and civilian support staff – has been passed by the Senate.

The House unanimously approved the federal worker pay bill during a rare weekend session on Saturday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid supports the measure to retroactively pay federal workers, but said Saturday that if furloughed workers are guaranteed back pay, there’s no reason to keep them out of work.

“It’s really cruel to tell workers they’ll receive back pay once the government opens and then refuse to open the government,” Reid said on the Senate floor, suggesting that House Republicans have authorized a “paid vacation” for furloughed workers.

Senate Democratic aides said Monday that they anticipate holding a vote on the retroactive pay measure at some point in the near future. But Democrats are likely to insist on an up-or-down vote on the bill instead of approving it by unanimous consent – a move that would force GOP senators to vote yes or no on the bill.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

From Niraj Chokshi:

Early childhood programs in six states, serving more than 7,000 children, will reopen their doors thanks to a private donation.

Seven Head Start programs were closed last week after the federal government shutdown Oct. 1. Those closings left 7,195 low-income children without access to the program, according to the nonprofit National Head Start Association.

But philanthropists Laura and John Arnold offered up to $10 million in emergency funding to reopen those programs — some as soon as Tuesday morning — and to prevent others from closing. The money will be paid back without interest if the Head Start programs receive funding for a full year once the government reopens. The closed programs are in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi.

Federal Head Start grants are doled out to state programs on varying schedules. Grant renewals for 23 programs — including those shut down — were up Oct. 1, the day the government shutdown began. Those programs serve a total of nearly 18,800 children.

Read more on GovBeat.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

A blizzard plastered the Plains last week, bringing 70 mph and up to four feet of snow to the region. Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Rapid City, S.D., a spot that saw 23.1 inches of snow, were deemed essential, so they were still going to work. As Jason Samenow reports at the Capital Weather Gang, the roads were impassable, so for some that meant hiking to work or sleeping at the office.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

More than one-quarter of Americans say the government shutdown has personally affected them, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center.

The 28 percent who feel personally inconvenienced is bigger than the 16 percent who said the same during the 1995/96 shutdown.

And it’s not just one side or the other. In fact, more Republicans say they have been inconvenienced (32%) than Democrats (28%).

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) had this remark for a man who was pressing him to support a clean CR during a visit to the World War II Memorial:

“Look, we’re not French. We don’t surrender.”

(h/t Dave Weigel)

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Washington is a company town, and when the company in question largely shuts down, that’s bound to reverberate through the region. Businesses not directly tied to the government are still going to feel the pain of the shutdown.

The latest example: District food trucks, long reliant on hungry federal workers, are taking a hit. Sales at several gourmet trucks are down 50 percent or more, reports Tim Carman. At least one truck has had to lay off employees, while others have opted to stop service or operate less frequently until the shutdown ends.

Some of the most popular stops for food trucks — L’Enfant Plaza, the Navy Yard, Federal Triangle and other areas — are situated around federal buildings. With many of these buildings largely emptied out due to furloughs, life has become more difficult for food trucks.

One truck reported seeing its sales cut in half at Franklin Square on Thursday. Similarly, during the lunch window on Friday, Franklin Square was dotted with people eating on the grass or ordering from food trucks, but the crowd was noticeably smaller than it was during pre-shutdown lunch hours.

For more, read Tim Carman’s report.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

White House press secretary Jay Carney today defended the decision to take down the AMBER Alert Web site, noting that it is not used to report missing children but only for informational purposes.

“I can tell you that the Web site the DOJ maintains is informational, and it’s not a law enforcement tool used to issue at AMBER Alerts,” Carney said at his daily briefing, according to a transcript. “And at no point during the shutdown has the AMBER Alert system been interrupted.”

Carney added that a furloughed employee was asked to restore the Web site after conservatives criticized the decision to shutter it.

“To eliminate any confusion among the public about the status of the program: A furloughed Justice Department employee was called in to work in order to restore the informational site,” Carney said. “But again, it’s informational. The system itself was never interrupted. And I think that’s important for people to know and to report.”

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Both parties have taken a hit in recent days, but Republicans started off in worse shape and took a bigger hit, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

From Scott Clement:

Disapproval of congressional Republicans’ budget wrangling after a weeklong shutdown has shot up to 70 percent, with 51 percent disapproving “strongly,” according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

At the same time, President Obama’s approval rating has ticked up due to improved marks among moderate Democrats and independents. No group, however, earns positive marks for their handling of budget negotiations overall.

Washington Post-ABC News poll

Some 45 percent approve of Obama’s handling of budget negotiations, up slightly from 41 percent last week. A still larger 51 percent disapproves of Obama, with 39 percent of the public disapproving strongly. Obama’s fellow Democrats have not been as resilient. Fully 61 percent of Americans now disapprove of congressional Democrats (up from 56 percent last week),  with strong disapproval rising nine points (to 45 percent).

Read more.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Two more House Democrats who didn’t sign a letter supporting a clean continuing resolution over the weekend now say they support one.

Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) on Monday sent around a “Dear Colleague” letter expressing support for a clean CR.

That means 198 out of 200 House Democrats now support a clean CR, and 219 House members overall (217 is needed for a majority).

The only Democrats who haven’t said whether they support a clean CR are Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.).

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

The shutdown has made D.C. the target of derision and mockery (well, more derision and mockery than usual). But as Petula Dvorak writes in her latest column, it’s not the people who live in Washington who caused the mess:

The people of Washington didn’t want this and aren’t to blame for it either. All the crazy that led to this absurd impasse that prompted the Senate’s chaplain to pray last week, “Save us from the madness”? That’s been imported here from the rest of the country.

America, you sent these guys here. They represent plenty of you, none of us. That imported brand of cuckoo is what’s causing this government shutdown.

Consider that the next time you find yourself slamming Washington as a political cesspool.

Read her whole column for more.

  • Tom LeGro
  • ·

While thanking FEMA employees Monday for their work preparing for Tropical Storm Karen, President Obama scolded Congress for the ongoing government shutdown, saying it must do what’s best for the economy and the American people. (Associated Press)

  • David Beard
  • ·

An increasing number of senators and representatives are refusing or donating their pay during the government shutdown, which has kept a paycheck from more than one million Americans.

By early afternoon, we’d counted at least 149 members of Congress who have said they were not accepting pay during the shutdown. That’s about 28 percent of Congress.

Several who earlier had said they were keeping their pay, such as Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), have changed their minds after public outcry.

Some remain vocal about keeping their salaries, such as Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.). “I have a family to raise,’’ he told “I have triplets in school, and unlike some members on the other side of the aisle, I’m not a millionaire.”

  • Ed O'Keefe
  • ·

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) says he’s returning his staff to full power this week because the House has approved back pay for federal employees furloughed as part of the shutdown.

“When the government shut down we took steps to furlough more than half our staff, because we believed that taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for anything more than essential operations during a shutdown,” Sanford said in a statement Monday.

“I think common sense would dictate that now that it’s clear everyone will be paid, that they should work – anything less would amount to an extended taxpayer subsidized vacation,” Sanford added later.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

A couple changes to our clean CR whip count:

1) Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who it was reported last week supported a clean CR and has been criticizing the cast-iron conservatives who have been pushing to delay Obamacare, does not actually support a clean CR, according to his office.

“Although that has been reported in various outlets, it is not accurate – he does NOT call for a clean CR,” Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said in an e-mail.

2) Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), who was one of five Democrats who didn’t sign a letter calling for a clean CR vote, does support a clean CR, his office tells Post Politics.

The subtraction of Nunes and addition of Matheson means we are still at 217 votes for a clean CR — 21 Republicans and 196 Democrats.

Update 3:01 p.m.: Langer, Nunes’s spokesman, said his boss’s his comments about a clean CR were taken out of context. Huffington Post, which originally reported that he supported a clean CR, offers this transcript:

 Update 3:54 p.m.: Langer explains that it was Nunes’s position before the shutdown, but not once the shutdown began.

“He had considered a clean CR before the shutdown, as an alternative to the shutdown and as an alternative to the Cruz strategy,” Langer said. “Since the shutdown occurred, he has supported GOP leadership and voted with them and with the House majority for all the CRs.”

Update 4:21 p.m.: Huffington Post has posted the audio of Nunes clearly saying that he would support a clean CR. 

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Another House Republican who supports a so-called “clean” continuing resolution says he won’t support a discharge petition to force a vote on it.

“I am not going to sign a discharge petition,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) said just now on CNN.

Dent is one of 22 House Republicans who have said they will support a clean CR, but both he and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have said no to a discharge petition, which would force a vote if a majority sign it.

Dent did say that he thinks many more than just 22 House Republicans would support a CR if it came to a vote — suggesting it would pass with a significant majority.

“I believe there are many privately who would vote for a clean CR,” Dent said. “They just have not stated so publicly.”

  • Matt Zapotosky
  • ·

Federal courts have been operating essentially as normal during the government shutdown from the fee money they collect. And when that money runs out on Oct. 15, it is likely the federal district courts in Maryland, anyway, will continue doing so.

In an interview Monday, Deborah Chasanow, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court of Maryland, said that any “case adjudication functions” — both civil and criminal — are considered essential, and virtually all those who work in the courts in Maryland have some case adjudication responsibilities.

She said if there were employees, for example, who simply ordered supplies, they might be deemed unessential, but she could not imagine there would be many of those.

“Chances are excellent that everybody will be coming to work next week,” Chasanow said. “Since most of our people are case management people, I can’t imagine that I’m really going to have that much slack. We’re cut really close to the bone already in terms of staffing.”

Federal judges in Virginia are meeting this week to determine which employees will be deemed essential if the money from fees runs out Oct. 15.

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