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Live updates: The shutdown

October 9, 2013

Note: This is an archived version of Wednesday’s live blog. For Thursday’s live blog, please click here.

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

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

From David M. Drucker:

Sen. Ted Cruz during a closed-door lunch on Wednesday argued to his Republican colleagues that the campaign he led to defund Obamacare has bolstered the GOP’s political position in dealing with the government shutdown.

Republicans who attended the weekly lunch hosted by Senate conservatives confirmed that Cruz presented a poll that the Texan paid for. Cruz’ pollster, Chris Perkins, was there for a portion of the discussion to help walk members through the poll and discuss the party’s messaging strategy. Perkins is a partner with Wilson Perkins Allen, a GOP polling firm with dozens of Republican clients.

The survey’s findings mirrored other national polls: More voters blame the Republicans for the government shutdown than blame President Obama or the Democrats. But Cruz argued, based on the poll, that Republicans are in a much better position than they were during the 1995 shutdown because this impasse is defined by a disagreement over funding for the Affordable Care Act as opposed to a general disagreement over government spending.

– 67 percent said Obamacare was the “major reason” for the government shutdown.

– By a margin of 46 percent to 39 percent, voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown over “Obama and Democrats.” Another 19 percent blamed both sides equally.

– By a margin of 42 percent to 36 percent, independent voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown over Obama and the Democrats.

– In November 1995, 51 percent of voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown; only 28 percent blamed then-President Clinton

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Chris Cox became big news on Wednesday, with a photo of him seemingly mowing the lawn at the Lincoln Memorial blazing across the Internet.

So who is he? Why, exactly, was he mowing the lawn?

Cox, a chain saw sculptor from South Carolina, said he simply wanted to make a difference.

“I figured out that I could play a…valuable role as a janitor, if you will,” Cox, 45, told The Post. “So I started cleaning up the overflowing trash cans. I bought a blower, and I’ve been blowing all of the trails, and today I cut the grass out here.”

He said he hoped to encourage people to show up at parks ready to clean and ready to help out.

“And over my dead body are we going to find trash pouring out of these trash cans,” Cox said. “At the end of the day we are the stewards of these buildings that are memorials.”

For more, read Michael Ruane’s story.

Watch Cox here:

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

The meeting with the House Democratic Caucus began at about 4:40 p.m., according to a pool report.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

From The Reliable Source:

Bad timing for a pair of West Coast fundraisers this weekend: Headliner Michelle Obama has dropped out, causing organizers to scrap their plans.The first lady was scheduled to appear at two big-ticket events: A $32,000-per-person roundtable Friday at the Los Angeles home of “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Philip Rosenthal (Obama was subbing for her husband, who canceled a similar party in September) benefiting the Democratic National Committee. Ditto for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “women’s brunch” Sunday in San Francisco (tickets up to $32,000) hosted by Nancy Pelosi, reports the Hollywood Reporter. Looks like stumping for Democratic dollars during the shutdown is considered bad form. The White House didn’t get back to us; a spokesman for Pelosi said the brunch will be rescheduled.

  • Nicki DeMarco
  • ·

Why are some Republicans backing a clean continuing resolution to fund the government? In Play takes a closer look at the districts they represent for clues.

  • Vanessa Small
  • ·

Several Washington area charities are furloughing employees, scaling back services and in some cases preparing for employee layoffs as the government shut drags on.

The Latin American Youth Center announced this week that it has furloughed more than half of its staff and reduced its programming to essential services. The furloughed staff, which includes senior leaders, will continue to work as volunteers until the shutdown ends and funding continues.

“I’m so depressed. It’s so sad,” said Lori Kaplan, president of the Latin American Youth Center.  “The center means so much to so many people, and this is hard on a lot of people.”

The Columbia Heights nonprofit, which offers youth development services to 5,000 kids each year, will stop some programs that help with job training and education. It is also in the process of piloting a new program that offers mentors who are available around the clock for troubled youth.  Kaplan said the mentors will now be part time. Services to its homeless and foster care youth will remain in operation.

Mary’s Center, a federally funded health facility in the District says it is struggling to make October payroll and to continue its services to more than 30,000 local patients. The charity which has yet to receive a $585,000 from the District’s Department of Health due on Oct. 1 for last month’s services. Those funds are now on hold until the shutdown ends.

Public funding is nearly 70 percent of the health center’s budget. The group is projecting a loss in October of more than $500,000 and preparing to furlough its staff if the shutdown continues through the month.

Maria Gomez, chief executive of Mary’s Center, spoke at a news conference with Mayor Vincent Gray and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton Wednesday morning at the Capitol highlighting the effects of the federal shutdown. Other nonprofit leaders who expressed detrimental impacts included Seabury Resources for the Aging, St. John’s Community, Friendship Public Charter School and Fairfax Fire & Rescue Department.

A host of other charities are also speaking out about the devastating impact of the shutdown on their services. Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington and a host of charities are lobbying Capitol Hill this week urging Congress to come to a budget solution.

“This shutdown is senseless,” wrote Diana Leon-Taylor, president and chief executive of the Nonprofit Roundtable, in an email. “It is not simply furloughing government staff, but devastating our business and nonprofit sector.”

Volunteers of America Chesapeake expects to lose $1.2 million and furlough 160 employees if the shutdown hasn’t ended in 30 days.

DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a 12-member agency that gets 60 to 90 percent of their budget from government funds. The groups says that in addition to increased requests for assistance such as food and transportation assistance, if the shutdown continues past this week, programs will reduce, and employees will not be paid.

“During the recession banks were being bailed out…but the nonprofit sector hasn’t gotten any help,” said Kaplan.

  • Ed O'Keefe
  • ·

Taking a break from the campaign trail in the Garden State, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie huddled with top Senate Republicans Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol.

The governor, who faces reelection in less than a month, told reporters after the meeting that he was merely paying a “courtesy visit” to Sen. Jeff Chiesa (R-N.J.), who will step down in a little more than a week after a special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

“I’ve got a race in 27 days, guys, that’s completely my focus at this point,” he told reporters who asked about the subject of his meeting with senators. “I’m trying to be reelected as governor and my job is to work on the problems of New Jersey, that’s what I’m doing. I’m just down here today to have a visit with the senator, and he’s introduced me to some of the new friends he’s made over the last four and a half months and that’s all that today is about.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his top lieutenants John Cornyn (R-Tex.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also attended the meeting, which lasted more than a half hour.

In a televised debate Tuesday night, Christie dodged questions about his potential 2016 presidential ambitions, saying he “can walk and chew gum at the same time. … I can do this job and also deal with my future.”

Asked again by reporters Wednesday whether he thinks he can walk and chew gum at the same time, Christie replied: “Sure, but only if I want to.”

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

White House press secretary Jay Carney says he’s disappointed House GOP leaders have turned down the White House’s invitation to the entire House GOP conference and will instead send a smaller group of GOP leaders to the White House tomorrow.

Carney’s statement: “The President thought it was important to talk directly with the members who forced this economic crisis on the country about how the shutdown and a failure to pay the country’s bills could devastate the economy. The President will talk to anyone anytime and looks forward to their visit to the White House, but will not pay the Republicans ransom for doing their job. If the Republicans want to have a real discussion they should open the government and take the threat of default off the table.”

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Another poll, from Gallup, shows the GOP’s brand hitting a new low:

  • Ed O'Keefe
  • ·

The House voted 425 to 0 to approve a measure that would ensure the Pentagon is able to pay death benefits to the families of U.S. service members killed in the line of duty.

The vote came shortly after the White House said President Obama has instructed the Defense Department to ensure that the roughly $100,000 payouts are made as scheduled when necessary.

The bill is expected to be ignored by the Senate, because Democrats controlling the chamber have said they are opposed to approving piecemeal short-term spending measures instead of reopening the entire federal government.

Around the same time the House passed the bill, though, the legislation became somewhat moot, as the Defense Department announced it had found a donor to pay death benefits until the shutdown is over.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said his department is “entering into an agreement with the Fisher House Foundation that will allow the federal government to provide the family members of fallen service members with the full set of benefits they have been promised, including a $100,000 death gratuity payment.”

The Fisher House Foundation had said Tuesday that it would step in and provide the $100,000 benefit to any family members of killed troops who were being denied the money because of the shutdown. The difference now is that the Pentagon has formally agreed to pay back the Foundation after the shutdown ends.

With Aaron Blake.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

President Obama earlier today invited the entire House GOP conference to the White House for a meeting tomorrow, according to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office.

Citing the White House’s posture toward having no negotiations as well as the drawn-out shutdown, though, House GOP leaders have opted to send a much smaller contingent.

Here’s who will attend:

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.)


  • 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.)
  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

So just how much of the government would be funded through the House GOP’s piecemeal continuing resolutions?

Not much.

The graphic below shows just how small the chunks — which the Senate is, by the way, declining to pass — are in relation to the overall budget.

The Pay Our Military Act, which was passed by both chambers and signed by President Obama, is the first big chunk. But the rest of the mini-CRs on the table only account for about 14 percent of the rest of the budget’s “discretionary” funding.

(For the full graphic, see here.)

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

For the hundreds of thousands of federal workers impacted by the shutdown, there are concerns about pay, usefulness, career choices and myriad other things. For the people around them — the spouses, significant others, roommates, friends or others — the impact is different, as Monica Hesse reports:

The furloughed, according to their spouses, are sometimes not changing out of their pajamas until noon. They are eating all of the cereal or buying weird things for the house.

Some also are becoming industrious: finally cleaning out the storage room, picking up the kids from school, baking furlough desserts. Were it not for the uncertainty of it — the vagueness of when this will end, and whether back pay will come through before the next mortgage payment is due — it could be a lovely thing to have a furloughed spouse at home.

Head here for more.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Sometimes adversity brings out the best in people.

That was apparently the case with this man, who witnesses say volunteered himself to mow the lawn around the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday morning.

He did so while carrying the flag of South Carolina.

Here’s to this guy…

Update 2:32 p.m.: The man appears to be Chris Cox, whom CBS talked to Wednesday. He has reportedly agreed with Park Police’s request that he cease his volunteer work.

  • Ed O'Keefe
  • ·

Top House Republicans and Democrats met around midday Wednesday to discuss the current impasse just a few hours before House Democrats are scheduled to meet with President Obama at the White House.

The meeting was requested by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), according to aides to Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

“As we’ve stated publicly, we’re willing to meet with any Democratic leader who is willing to talk,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Aides said the meeting between the leaders lasted about 40 minutes but didn’t yield any new agreements.

In a statement, Pelosi said that “Whip Hoyer and I reiterated that there are 200 Democratic votes to accept the Republican budget number of $986 billion to re-open government, and that we would agree to smooth the path to a budget conference. We were disappointed the Speaker did not take ‘yes’ for an answer.”

  • Ed O'Keefe
  • ·
(Ed O'Keefe/The Washington Post)

(Ed O’Keefe/The Washington Post)

The deadline to raise the federal debt limit on Oct. 17 is fast-approaching and most rank-and-file senators are mostly biding their time until Congressional leaders strike a deal, but time is standing still in the U.S. Senate. Or at least in the corridor just outside the Senate Chamber.

The famed Ohio Clock stands in the hallway outside the Senate Chamber known as the Ohio Clock Corridor. The clock appears to have stopped working around 12:15 p.m. Or maybe it was at 12:15 a.m. — nobody really seems to know.

It’s unclear when someone might be able to fix the clock, since most maintenance staff at the U.S. Capitol has been furloughed. (By the way, the clock was actually made in Philadelphia, but that’s an anomaly to explain some other time.)

We would ask the folks in charge about when they might fix the clock, but the spokesman for the Architect of the Capitol has been forced to stay home during the impasse.

And there’s no way of knowing whether there’s been a similar stoppage of time in recent years, because the folks at the Office of the Senate Historian are also furloughed.

  • Juliet Eilperin
  • ·

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday President Obama was upset to learn that the partial government shutdown had halted the death benefits military families receive and ordered his staff to ensure the benefits went through.

“We expect a solution to this problem today,” Carney told reporters during his daily briefing.

  • Joe Davidson
  • ·

Three Democratic members of Congress are asking a group of their Republican colleagues to support efforts to force a vote on a “clean” government funding bill.

The Democrats — Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), George Miller (Calif.) and Nita Lowey (N.Y.) — sent letters to 30 House Republicans who they and the media have identified as willing (or potentially willing) to vote for a temporary budget measure that does not call for defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate has passed a bill doing that, but Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to allow a vote on it in the House, saying the measure would not pass. Independent tallies however, including one by The Washington Post, indicate that there are enough votes for approval.

The Democrats want the Republicans to join in signing a discharge petition Saturday.  A petition signed by a majority of members could force a vote on the bill — though it’s not clear how soon such a vote could occur.

Some of these Republicans have already said they won’t sign a discharge petition — a maneuver which has very rarely been invoked in the House.

The letter was sent to: Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.)Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Co.)Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)Rep. Charles W. Dent (R-Pa.)Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.)Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.)Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.)Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.)Rep. Richard L. Hanna (R-N.Y.)Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.)Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.)Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-N.J.)Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.)Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.)Rep. David G. Reichert (R-Wash.)Rep. E. Scott Rigell (R-Va.)Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.)Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.)Rep. Michael K. Simpson (R-Idaho)Rep. Robert J. Wittman (R-Va.)Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.)Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.)Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska).

With Aaron Blake.

  • Aaron Blake
  • ·

Paul Kane and I disagree (in a friendly way) over at The Fix.

Here’s the key part:

PK: John Boehner and [Eric] Cantor aren’t worried about losing the majority at this point, and that’s why they are constantly tending to their base inside the Republican Study Committee. They don’t believe the majority is at stake, so they worry more about their internal standing in HC5. That’s where you see the impact of gerrymandering, in the way leadership caters to its fringe elements.

Both Charlie and Stu – Cook and Rothenberg, respectively – have fewer than 30 House Republican seats as even in play, total, for 2014. Most of those are not even toss-ups, they’re just those remotely in play. That’s a fundamentally different orbit than what the Gingrich-Hastert-DeLay conference floated in from 1995-2007. Back then, when they regularly had about 230 seats, they pushed hard to the right but always feared losing their swing district seats and, therefore, their majority.

Even if redistricting only creates a buffer of 15 to 20 fewer seats in play for R’s, that’s a buffer that, for now, leaves GOP leaders not in fear of losing the majority. The result of that lack of political fear is, leaders suffer from what I call “HC5 Syndrome” – decisions are increasingly based on how they will play out inside the basement room where Republicans regularly meet, not on how they play out on the national political landscape.

AB: Fair points, again. I agree that Boehner likely isn’t as concerned about losing the House as he would have been two years ago. But I don’t think it’s as big a difference as people think.

Fair Vote did a good study on this. They showed that, before this round of redistricting, the GOP had 189 safe seats and there were 89 “balanced” seats. So Republicans needed to win 29 of 89 balanced seats (32.5 percent) to hold the majority. Today, after redistricting, there are 195 safe GOP seats and 74 balanced seats. So the GOP needs to win 23 of the 74 balanced seats (31.1 percent). The fact is that 31.1 percent and 32.5 percent aren’t that far apart.

I think the fact that the GOP majority is safer than it was before has as much or more to do with the fact that they were finally able to pick off all those conservative Democratic districts that should have been theirs to begin with. Even under the old map, GOP would have been heavily favored to keep the majority going forward. All they have to do is win one-third of the competitive seats.

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