With the government shutdown over, workers around the Washington region flooded back to work Thursday. Here’s a look at some of the scenes captured around the area.
The U.S. government shutdown, now in its third week, is nearing an end after both chambers on Wednesday passed a bipartisan deal to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling.
Keep checking here for the latest updates.
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With the government shutdown over, workers around the Washington region flooded back to work Thursday. Here’s a look at some of the scenes captured around the area.
During the shutdown, Metro said its ridership dropped 20 percent because fewer federal workers were commuting on the rail system.
As you might imagine, the end of the shutdown saw the end of that drop. Metro’s ridership between 5 a.m. (when the system opened) and 11 a.m. Thursday was up 19 percent over the same period a week earlier. And the transit agency expects a similar rebound during the Thursday evening commute.
For riders Thursday, something else was restored from the pre-shutdown days: Metro returned to using eight-car trains. During the shutdown, the agency had been using only six-car trains due to the drop in ridership.
President Obama early Thursday morning signed the bill passed by Congress on Wednesday ending the government shutdown and extending the debt limit.
The president’s signature brings to a close a more than two-week shutdown and extends government funding until Jan. 15 and the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.
It also calls for negotiations between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate over government spending.
The Office of Management and Budget has said furloughed federal employees should plan to return to work Thursday.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was to have breakfast Thursday morning with her House counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), to start a new round of talks aimed at averting another crisis.
The two were named Wednesday to head talks between the two chambers over the future of budget negotiations.
President Obama on Wednesday repeated his vow to work with Republicans to rein in a national debt that remains at historically high levels.
The shutdown is over. The U.S. did not default on loans. Here’s a look back on what happened today in only three minutes.
With Tom LeGro and Sarah Parnass.
The breakdown (more here):
From Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget:
“Now that the bill has passed the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning. Employees should be checking the news and OPM’s website for further updates.”
Updated at 11:23 p.m.
Near the end of the vote, members and staff were startled when someone who appeared to be a House stenographer suddenly went to the microphone and started to yell. She was quickly escorted out, but House floor staff looked visibly shaken.
The woman made references to God, as well as Freemasons having written the Constitution.
Capitol Police confirmed they were currently conducting interviews about the incident but declined to release the stenographer’s name.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said the stenographer is a well-known and liked figure in the House.
“I think there’s a lot of sympathy, because something clearly happened there,” Connolly said.
Updated: Here’s audio that appears to be of the woman, from the Takeaway’s Todd Zwillich:
And here’s the video:
Jeff Simon contributed to this post.
The House just voted to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.
The final tally was 285-144.
All 198 Democrats voting were in in favor, but most Republicans voted against it, by a margin of 144-87.
Leaders expect the government to reopen on Thursday.
The House is now voting on the Senate’s plan to end the government shutdown and extend the debt ceiling.
The bill came up for a vote sooner than it could have after both sides agreed to end debate and bring it to a vote.
This is a 15-minute vote.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday night offered some faint praise for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for allowing a vote on the Senate-passed plan to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling.
“Thank you, Speaker Boehner, for finally allowing a majority of House members to reopen government and avoid a default that would clearly have wreaked havoc on our economic credibility and the stability of our country,” Pelosi said, emphasizing the word “finally.”
Boehner previously declined to allow a vote on a so-called “clean” continuing resolution passed in the Senate that appeared to have majority support — albeit with very few Republicans on-board.
Pelosi noted that the bill only extended government funding and the debt ceiling by a few months.
“I do not come here to pin a rose on this legislation,” Pelosi said. “It does not have that respect. But it does have my support as a means to an end.”
Here’s how senators voted on a bipartisan bill to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling. Eighteen Republicans voted against the Senate deal to reopen the government — including three major potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
The vote will preceded by an hour of floor debate. So the vote is likely set for around 10:30 p.m. eastern time.
We’ve got live video of the proceedings above.
President Obama will deliver another statement Thursday morning at 10:35 a.m. in the State Dining Room.
In brief remarks around 8:30 p.m., President Obama urged Congress after Wednesday night to focus on immigration and budget matters during what’s left of the non-election year.
He also suggested Congress should learn its lesson that shutdowns and defaults should not be used as political bargaining chips.
“We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” Obama said. “My hope and expectation is that everybody has learned that there’s no reason we can’t work on the issues at hand. … Hopefully that’s a lesson that will be internalized.”
Eighteen Republicans vote against the Senate deal to reopen the government — including all three major potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
The others were Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Tex.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Dean Heller (Nev.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jim Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and David Vitter (La.).
Here’s more from The Fix on their potential motivations.
And here’s the full breakdown:
That’s in roughly five minutes.
The remarks will be made in the press briefing room.
Video is above.
The National Zoo said Wednesday it plans to reopen at 10 a.m. Friday if the government shutdown is ended and plans to have the giant panda cam back in operation by midday Thursday.
“As soon as we are all back at work we are going to as expeditiously as possible resume all of our animal cams including the panda cam,” zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said.
She said the panda cam can handle 850 connections at a time. But because of the expected volume viewers will be limited to 15 minutes per session on the cam.
She said the female panda cub looks wonderful and has grown a lot.
“She looks incredibly healthy,” she said. “She looks much larger. People are going to be joyfully surprised.”
The Senate has passed a bipartisan bill to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling by a vote of 81 to 18.
The bill is now headed to the House, where a vote is expected late Wednesday night. The bill is expected to pass with mostly Democratic votes.
For more on the bill, see our main story.
From Jeff Simon:
16 no votes on cloture: Johnson (WI), Roberts, Lee, Vitter, Cruz, Toomey, Rubio, Cornyn, Shelby, Heller, Grassley, Risch, Crapo, Enzi…
— Jeff Simon (@jjsimonWP) October 17, 2013
No votes on cloture (cont.): Sessions, Paul.
— Jeff Simon (@jjsimonWP) October 17, 2013
The Senate bill just cleared a procedural vote with ease, by a vote of 83-16. Cloture has now been invoked.
The Senate is now voting on final passage, with 51 votes needed for passage. It is expected to get far more than that.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — who all oppose the Senate’s deal — will appear on Sean Hannity’s TV show tonight, according to Hannity’s Twitter account.
The official Fox schedule also lists Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), another opponent, as a guest.
Hannity’s show begins at 10 p.m. eastern on Fox News Channel.
Be sure to tune in tonight for an exclusive interview with @SenTedCruz & @SenMikeLee… they’re here live to discuss the Senate deal
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) October 16, 2013
He believes the fight against obamacare is not over. Tonight @marcorubio will discuss how this reckless law is hurting many families
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) October 16, 2013
Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday evening before a vote to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) made no apologies for trying to defund and delay Obamacare. “This is not over,” he said.
The 35 pages of the draft bill on reopening the federal government and raising the debt ceiling that the Senate was preparing to vote on Wednesday night also manages to provide for a few other programs as well. Here are seven other things the compromise bill does: It funds emergency highway repairs in Colorado; funds fighting wildfires in the West; increases funds for locks and dams on the Lower Ohio River; compensates states that paid back salaries for federal workers; pays the late senator Frank Lautenberg’s widow the equivalent of a year’s pay of a senator, and increases the fees the Mine Safety and Health Administration is allowed to collect.
Read details here.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which has suggested it might oppose Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a primary next year, alleges McConnell got a bit of sweetener in the Senate’s plan to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling.
They group even has a catchy name for it — “The Kentucky Kickback.”
Well now U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has an Obamacare earmark of his own.
The McConnell-Reid bill not only funds Obamacare and suspends the debt limit, it ALSO includes a provision in Section 123 that increases the authorization for the Olmsted Lock in Kentucky from $775 million to nearly $3 billion.
But as our David Fahrenthold reports, the funding was actually requested by President Obama and, according to congressional sources from both parties, wasn’t a McConnell project:
The project is called the Olmsted Locks and Dam. It is run by the Army Corps of Engineers and is supposed to help ease barge traffic on a busy stretch of the Ohio River.
Shortly after the bill was released late Wednesday, some critics looked at this provision and saw a favor for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), one of the two Senate leaders who negotiated the bill. He is up for reelection in 2014.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which has targeted McConnell with attacks from the right, called it “the Kentucky Kickback.”
“McConnell may try to blame someone else for this, but he wrote the bill and it’s not the first time he has sought funds for this project,” the group said in a news release. “This is what’s wrong with Washington and it’s what’s wrong with Mitch McConnell.”
It’s true that McConnell had requested “earmark” funds for this project in the past, according to a database of such requests kept by Legistorm. Did he request that its inclusion in Wednesday’s Senate bill?
“No, he did not,” Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman, said in an e-mail message.
Instead, Senate staffers said there was bipartisan support for increasing the project’s funding. The provision does not allocate $2 billion; rather, it raises the cap for the amount Congress could allocate later. President Obama asked for it in his 2014 budget, and both the House and the Senate had passed bills allowing the increase this year. The House did criticize the Corps of Engineers, saying if it had managed the project better there would not be the need for the “massive increase” in funding authority.
From the Office of Management and Budget:
“The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of the amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 2775, making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2014, and for other purposes. The legislation represents a bipartisan agreement to reopen the Government and remove the threat of default that would harm middle-class families, American businesses, and the Nation’s economic standing in the world. The Administration urges the Congress to act swiftly to pass the bill in order to protect the full faith and credit of the United States and end the Government shutdown. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress on fiscal year 2014 appropriations legislation for the full year.”
The Senate has begun voting in advance of its expected passage of a bill the reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling.
The current vote is merely a procedural one.
Stay tuned above for the latest on the Senate floor (and refresh if you don’t see a video player).
From Emily Emily Wax-Thibodeaux:
They rushed back from out-of-town trips. They phoned relatives who were helping them pay bills, to thank them. And they started making mental to-do lists about work that was left on their desks 16 days ago.
After nearly two weeks of what some federal employees described as an “unwanted vacation,” the Congressional deal to raise the debt limit and reopen the government was met with a cautious optimism by a beaten-down workforce in Washington. The furloughed posted messages on social media that ranged from, “Thank God, it’s over,” to “Why in the world am I still working for the federal government?”
From museum employees to those who work at the Peace Corps, the end of the shutdown had federal workers checking Web sites and watching news reports, waiting to see whether they would be back to work this week.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the Senate floor just now for crafting a deal despite facing primary opposition from a candidate running to his right in the 2014 election.
“We all know he has a difficult political situation,” Schumer said, adding: “Leader McConnell stepped up for the good of the nation. He showed courage.”
In a speech on the Senate floor just now, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said the Senate plan “embodies everything about the Washington establishment that frustrates” people.
“Unfortunately today, the United States Senate is saying: You don’t have a voice in Washington,” Cruz said of Americans being subjected to Obamacare. “This is a terrible deal.”
Cruz acknowledged that the bill would pass, but decried it as a burden on the backs of Americans who don’t want Obamacare.
Cruz said, though, that he hoped the last three weeks begin a movement that forces the Senate to listen.
“At the same time, I am optimistic, I am inspired by the millions of Americans who have risen up, and if the American people continue to rise up, I am confident the Senate will (make like the House) and listen to the American people,” Cruz said.
From Sean Sullivan:
The latest Pew Research Center poll is chock full of data revealing an emerging rift between tea party-aligned Republicans and the rest of the party. But if there is one area of relative agreement, it’s this: a belief that tea party is independent from the GOP.
More than half of all Republicans (51 percent) say the the tea party is separate. Only about three in 10 say it is part of the Republican Party. Nearly equal shares of tea party Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (52 percent) and non-tea party Republicans and GOP-leaning independents (55 percent) say the movement is separate from the GOP.
The District government stands to score a significant victory in the deal forged by Congress to end the 16-day federal shutdown, winning the right to spend its local funds through next September, according to Capitol Hill officials.
The bill, which is expected to go to the Senate floor Wednesday evening, would allow the city government to largely go about its business as usual should Congress again fail to reach a budget accord by the time federal spending authority is set to next expire, on Jan. 15.
During the current shutdown, the District has used a $144 million reserve fund to keep all 32,000 city employees on the job and most city services running. However, the city has been forced to halt a variety of payments, including a quarterly Metro subsidy payment, reimbursements to Medicaid contractors and legal settlements and judgments.
It does not appear that the budget deal will grant the city more permanent permission to spend its local funds. In April, District voters approved a ballot measure amending the charter to allow those funds to be spent even without a congressional appropriation.
But that measure does not take effect until Jan. 1, and it has been mired in legal debate with House Republicans and even D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan questioning its constitutionality.
From Matea Gold:
The bipartisan Senate deal to end the government’s fiscal impasse was roundly condemned Wednesday by tea party leaders around the country, who accused Republican lawmakers of capitulating to President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress. Matt Kibbe, president of the FreedomWorks conservative group, called it “a total surrender” and said the tea party’s gambit to undermine Obama’s health-care law could have worked if GOP leadership had stood firm.
“We don’t have regrets,” Kibbe added. “This was a very winnable fight, if the Republicans had been willing to fight.”
We now have the full legislative language of that agreement here, available in its full 35-page glory. Enjoy!
Some House Republicans are questioning the tactics adopted by their tea party colleagues in the fight that led to a 16-day partial federal government shutdown and fueled concerns over a possible default.
In an interview with the National Journal, Charles Boustany (R-La.) said those colleagues had “put the GOP majority at risk.”
“There are members with a different agenda,” Boustany said Wednesday in an interview in his office. “And I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative.”
In some estimations, House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to allow a vote on the Senate’s plan to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling risked a conservative mutiny — especially considering the possibility that most House Republicans would oppose it.
But so far, that’s hardly the case. And in fact, it’s quite the opposite, with leading conservatives downplaying the idea that Boehner’s speakership might be in trouble.
Here’s a sampling:
Had Boehner not allowed the shutdown to play out for two weeks and allowed a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution earlier, we might be in a much different situation.
For now, though, it appears Boehner earned goodwill by sticking with the conservative wing’s strategy for as long as he did.
Ending the partial government shutdown would affect federal workers in many ways, apart from returning to work those who have been furloughed. We have the answers to some key questions about the impact.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), one of the more conservative voices in the House GOP caucus, told CNN on Wednesday afternoon that he will vote against the Senate plan to end the government shutdown and extend the debt ceiling, but that he expects it to get majority support in the House GOP.
Mulvaney also echoed House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) statement that the GOP lost the battle this time.
“We really do believe that this was worth having the fight,” Mulvaney said. “We lost. That’s it. You’re absolutely right. The folks who said we were going to lose turned out to be correct. I can’t argue that.”
Mulvaney also said that Boehner is “100 percent stronger” after the debt limit fight.
“No one blames him for this,” Mulvaney said. “We did not have the votes.”
Mulvaney said he and fellow conservatives like Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) were whipping votes for Boehner’s plan on Tuesday. The plan ultimately failed and didn’t come to a vote.
This week’s debt ceiling/shutdown battle found House Speaker John Boehner tasked as usual to round up votes from his fellow Republicans.
A new book by former colleague Peter Baker recalls another tense moment when Boehner was asked to find the votes.
Every politician spent Wednesday insisting that there were no winners in the deal to avert the debt ceiling deadline and re-open the government. That is, of course, something that politicians say. But, with an event as all-consuming and high profile as the shutdown has been in the last three weeks in Washington, it’s ridiculous not to see some winners and, yes, some losers emerging.
Tea party supporters rate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) favorably by a 74-8 margin.
Among all other Republicans, though, the picture is much different, with just 25 percent viewing Cruz favorably and 31 percent viewing him unfavorably.
That’s the big takeaway from this new Pew Research Center poll:
There is a growing rift between tea party supporters and the rest of the Republican Party, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center.
The poll shows moderate Republicans’ views of the tea party have dropped from 46 percent favorable in June to 27 percent favorable today — a 19-point decline in just four months time.
The shutdown deal that Senate lawmakers approved on Wednesday would provide back pay for federal workers who were furloughed during the slowdown in operations, according to aides from multiple congressional offices.
Heritage Action has joined another leading conservative group — the Club for Growth — in opposing the Senate plan and saying it will use the vote to rate members of Congress.
The opposition from these two groups will likely give GOP members pause when deciding whether to vote for the legislation.
In an interview on a local radio station, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) conceded that Republicans “didn’t win” the current budget debate.
“We’ve been locked into a fight over here, trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” Boehner said. “We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win.”
Boehner also said he would “absolutely” allow a vote on the Senate plan even if a majority of House Republicans don’t support the bill.
“There’s no reason for our members to vote ‘no’ today,” Boehner told conservative radio host Bill Cunningham, adding that he expected the government to open again Thursday.
House Speaker John Boehner’s office (R-Ohio) just confirmed the House will vote on the Senate plan to end the shutdown and extend the debt ceiling.
“(The government spending and Obamacare) fight will continue,” Boehner said in a statement. “But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us.”
The vote is expected as early as tonight, and the plan is expected to pass with mostly Democratic votes.
Here’s Boehner’s full statement:
“The House has fought with everything it has to convince the president of the United States to engage in bipartisan negotiations aimed at addressing our country’s debt and providing fairness for the American people under ObamaCare. That fight will continue. But blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us. In addition to the risk of default, doing so would open the door for the Democratic majority in Washington to raise taxes again on the American people and undo the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act without replacing them with better spending cuts. With our nation’s economy still struggling under years of the president’s policies, raising taxes is not a viable option. Our drive to stop the train wreck that is the president’s health care law will continue. We will rely on aggressive oversight that highlights the law’s massive flaws and smart, targeted strikes that split the legislative coalition the president has relied upon to force his health care law on the American people.”
Not surprising, but worth noting: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) primary opponent, businessman Matt Bevin, is out with a statement denouncing the deal McConnell helped craft
Here’s part of Bevin’s statement:
“McConnell just negotiated the GOP surrender to Harry Reid, leading the charge to give President Obama a blank check and lifting the debt ceiling once again without any spending reforms. Harry Reid has even praised McConnell for his ‘cooperation.’
“After falsely promising that he would fight to eliminate Obamacare ‘root and branch,’ Sen. McConnell has instead given us more spending, more borrowing, and the Obamacare train wreck with exceptions for liberal pet interests.”
Bevin’s primary challenge — which is likely to be well-funded thanks to Bevin’s personal wealth — has long hung over McConnell’s negotiations in the current budget debate. Expect Bevin to keep up this line of attack in the months ahead, as he seeks to be a formidable opponent to McConnell.
Here’s his statement:
“I cannot support this deal because it postpones any significant action on pro-growth and spending reforms and does nothing to provide working class Americans even one shred of relief from ObamaCare’s harmful effects.
“Until we tackle the real threats to the American Dream, we are going to continue finding ourselves in these kinds of messes. America is better than this, and the American people deserve better.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) will also vote no, leaving Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as the one major potential GOP presidential candidate who hasn’t announced his intentions.
Democratic aides said Wednesday afternoon that the Senate will vote on the deal to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling before the House, taking up the plan in the late afternoon or early evening.
If the Senate approves the deal by early evening, the bill would go immediately to the House for a vote. No amendments are anticipated, so the House could possibly approve the legislation Wednesday night, sending it to Obama’s desk for his signature late Wednesday or early Thursday morning.
When President Obama signs the deal and funding for the federal government is restored, federal employees who have been furloughed generally would be expected to report for work on their next regular working day. If Obama signed the deal late tonight, or even early Thursday morning, federal workers could be back on the job as early as Thursday.
When asked when the government would reopen, Speaker of the House John A. Boehner said, “I would expect this will happen tomorrow.”
There’s really no reason for it not to,” Boehner told conservative radio host Bill Cunningham.
Also, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said that he expects the House and Senate to have conferees appointed by the end of the day for the committee that will hammer out broader budget issues, such as whether to replace deep cuts to agency budgets known as the sequester with other savings.
When the partial government shutdown ends, federal employees who have been furloughed generally would be expected to report for work on their next regular working day.
In most cases, that likely would be tomorrow, if a plan to restore federal agency funding and raise the debt ceiling is approved and signed into law today.
The standard notice that furloughed employees received Oct. 1 when the shutdown started says that when the funding lapse ends, “you will be expected to return to work on your next regular duty day.”
This is an eye-popping claim: A new report from Macroeconomic Advisers argues that Congress’s budget fights, debt-ceiling stand-offs, and spending cuts have cost us nearly 3 percent of GDP since 2011. That’s roughly $700 billion in lost economic activity.
But is this true? Is Congress really doing that much damage to the U.S. economy? A dramatic claim like that needs a little unpacking, so let’s break this report down piece by piece. There are two big arguments here.
Local leaders gathered in the District on Wednesday to talk about the impact of the shutdown on the Washington region. Even as a deal was being announced on Capitol Hill, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray joined with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, Fairfax County Board chair Sharon Bulova and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett to discuss what the shutdown means for their jurisdictions.
After the meeting, some of the leaders spoke out about the shutdown. Bulova said in a statement that “the already devastating effect this is having on our residents” would be compounded by the lasting negative impact on the Washington region’s economy.
Baker took to Twitter to talk about the impact on Prince George’s County:
Of course, perhaps the biggest news made at the event focused on another issue entirely:
Via Bloomberg’s Nicholas Johnston, above is a chart that sums up the last 10 days of the debt-ceiling standoff. This is the interest rate prevailing in markets for U.S. Treasury bills maturing on Oct. 17 — that is to say, tomorrow.
By the middle of last week, investors were shedding these bills, fearful that the debt ceiling would not be raised in time, and they might not be repaid promptly. That fear peaked on Oct. 10, last Thursday. It eased over the weekend, and then those fears collapsed Wednesday as the path forward on the debt ceiling became clearer, and the chance that the government won’t be able to roll over maturing bills dissipated.
So, America wins, I guess?
Our updated primer on what’s happening will help if you are confused by all the crazy ups and downs of Washington over the government shutdown and debt ceiling.
The conservative group will also penalize members who support it on their vote rankings, designating the bill as a “key vote.”
“This announced plan, the details of which aren’t completely known, appears to have little to no reforms in it,” the Club’s Andy Roth said in an e-mail to congressional offices. “There are no significant changes to Obamacare, nothing on the other major entitlements that are racked with trillions in unfunded liabilities, and no meaningful spending cuts either. If this bill passes, Congress will kick the can down the road, yet again.”
Matt Kibbe, president of the national tea party group FreedomWorks, lashed out at the Senate deal as a capitulation to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“I think it’s a total surrender to what Harry Reid always wanted,” said Kibbe, whose organization aggressively pushed the effort to use a stopgap budget deal to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
The plan could have worked, he said, if the GOP leadership had stood firm.
“We will never know, because very early in this process, some Republicans started shooting at other Republicans and changed the narrative,” Kibbe told The Post.
“We don’t have regrets,” he added. “This was a very winnable fight, if the Republicans had been willing to fight.”
Despite the apparent defeat, FreedomWorks activists are unbowed, he said.
“This fight goes on and on as long as Obamacare continues to be implemented,” Kibbe said. “It is now proven to be a train wreck, and people are going to be wrestling with all of its problems up to election day.”
“The reaction we’re getting from our activists is resolve to keep fighting,” he added, particularly on the issue of the national debt. “Somebody needs to stop the bipartisan recklessness, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has not emerged from the government shutdown debate unscathed, but his name still means plenty in GOP primaries.
Case in point: Sen. Pat Roberts’s (R-Kan.) primary challenger, Milton Wolf, is claiming the Cruz mantle in his just-launched campaign.
In a campaign e-mail, Wolf — who just happens to be a second cousin of President Obama — asks the question “Is Milton Wolf the next Ted Cruz.”
The e-mail links to a story in The Week asking that very question.
A bipartisan deal reached in the Senate, if passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed by President Obama, will raise the nation’s debt limit through Feb. 7 and end the 16-day-old government shutdown.
The impasse leading to this deal has brought widespread public condemnation of Republican lawmakers and highlighted deep divisions within the GOP. Their strategy of linking funding of the federal government to defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act has proven a failure, and led some to ask what was the fight worth.
Over at The Atlantic, Molly Ball writes:
For Republicans, it was basically for nothing.
The GOP will actually get less out of the final deal being brokered than the party would have gotten had House conservatives never staged their revolt on Obamacare. In fact, the drama is likely to end with Republicans ceding policy concessions to Democrats.
The Senate has once again reached an 11th-hour deal to avert fiscal disaster. And once again, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was at the center of it.
Thanks to negotiations between McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), lawmakers will soon vote on a bill that would reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. For McConnell, it was an unlikely reprise of past efforts to pull the country back from the brink of disaster.
More on McConnell’s dealmaking at The Fix.
It remains to be seen how the House will handle the Senate plan, but at least one tea party group is calling for Republicans to hold their ground against the Senate plan.
“The Senate deal is a complete sellout. Speaker Boehner and the House should stand firm and reject this deal to reign in the executive branch’s power before it is too late,” Tea Party Patriots head Jenny Beth Martin said. “The House ‘leadership’ must stop playing ‘flinch’ with themselves, and instead, play hardball with the White House, the Senate, and the House. Otherwise, hard-working Americans are going to bear the burden of this unaffordable law (Obamacare). The American people will hold those responsible for this mess accountable.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said if conservative Republicans attempt to raise the issue of defunding the Affordable Care Act again in three months “then they have learned nothing from this.”
“We’ve been asking from the beginning ‘what’s the end game? How does this end? How do you achieve what you are purporting to achieve on defunding Obamacare,’ and I never got an answer to that. I don’t think there still is an answer to that,” she said. “So if we learned nothing else from this whole exercise, I hope we’ve learned that we shouldn’t get behind a strategy that cannot succeed.”
In the daily White House media briefing, press secretary Jay Carney endorsed the Senate compromise.
“The president applauds Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell for working together to forge a compromise and encourage Congress to act swiftly to end the shutdown and protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” Carney said.
Carney added: “The president believes that the bipartisan agreement announced by the leaders of the United States Senate will reopen the government and remove the threat already damaging middle class families and business around the world. … He believes the deal achieves what is necessary.”
Carney called on Congress to act quickly but said the administration will not submit a formal announcement of its policy until the actual legislation is introduced.
Asked how confident the administration is that the House will pass the Senate deal, Carney said, “We are not putting odds on anything. We are simply applauding leaders of the Senate for reaching the agreement they have reached.”
Aaron Blake contributed to this post.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), one of the leaders of the conservative opposition to GOP leadership in the House, said in an interview Tuesday that he doesn’t think the current budget situation means John Boehner’s speakership is in trouble.
“I’ll just say: the class of ’94 seems to have a lot more guts and gusto than the class of 2010 because they were willing to take down Speaker [Newt] Gingrich,” Huelskamp told Newsmax TV. “But I don’t see that happening anytime soon in today’s Congress.”
Huelskamp was one of a handful of House Republicans who voted against Boehner for speaker.
Another leading conservative in the House, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), told The Washington Post on Wednesday that he too doesn’t think Boehner is in trouble.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said shortly after the shutdown/debt ceiling deal was announced that the outcome won him a bet — apparently with fellow negotiator Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
“And I want to thank, especially, my friend from Maine, who enriched me with a small side-wager that we made during the course of this discussion,” McCain said with a smile.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) says he will not hold up the deal cut by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to raise the debt limit through Feb. 7 and end the 16-day-old government shutdown.
Cruz said “delaying this vote would not accomplish anything,” though he made clear he would oppose the deal.
Cruz, the leading proponent of the effort to use the fiscal crisis to defund the federal health-care law, told reporters he rejected the idea that Republicans have gotten nothing from the weeks long fight.
“I think we have seen a remarkable thing happen. Months ago, when the effort to defund Obamacare began, official Washington scoffed,” he said. “They scoffed that the American people would rise up. They scoffed that the House of Representatives would do anything. They scoffed that the Senate would do anything. We saw millions upon millions of people rise up across this country.
“We saw the House of Representatives take a courageous stand, listening to the America people. Everyone in official Washington had said would never happen. That was a remarkable victory, to see the House engage in a profile in courage.”
But he said division in the Senate doomed the House’s effort. “Had Senate Republicans united and supported House Republicans, the outcome of this, I believe, would have been very, very different.”
And for what it’s all worth, now that Cruz and his allies are going to assure smooth sailing, a vote on the deal will almost certainly begin in the Senate, then go to the House.
All vote times are TBD. We’ll advise as things develop.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), speaking on the Senate floor, struck a triumphant note as he announced a bipartisan deal with Senate Republicans.
“In the end, political adversaries set aside their disagreements to prevent that disaster,” Reid said of a potential government default.
Reid said the plan will appoint conferees to a budget conference committee, led by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Parry Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Reid also confirmed the government would be funded through Jan. 15 and the debt ceiling would be lifted until Feb. 7.
The bill, notably, doesn’t include any concessions from the White House and Democrats on Obamacare — the issue that spurred the government shutdown in the first place.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he is “confident” the plan will pass in both chambers of Congress. The House remains the biggest stumbling block for the bill, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has not committed to allowing a vote on the Senate plan.
“Now is time for Republicans to unite behind other crucial goals,” McConnell said.
Reid said the Senate will change its ways following the current budget mess.
“Sen. McConnell and I have sat in very, very serious discussions the last few days,” Reid said. “We’re going to do everything we can to change the atmosphere in the Senate and accomplish things that need to be done for our country.”
The Senate is in order, which means leaders are expected to soon lay out the terms of a bipartisan deal to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling.
As yet, senators are not speaking on the floor. The Senate GOP meeting has held up the expected announcement of the deal.
See above for live video (and click refresh if the player doesn’t show up).
The Houston Chronicle newspaper’s editorial board endorsed Ted Cruz for Senate in 2012 general election. But now, it’s having second thoughts about its decision.
Senate Chaplain Barry Black offered this prayer at the outset of today’s Senate session:
“Lord, keep them from making any decision that will seem reckless in the sober light of hindsight,” Black said.
Following Black’s prayer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) praised him for his series of topical and well-spoken invocations.
As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) headed into the meeting of the Senate Republican Conference, he said the looming debt deadline meant that Republicans had little or no leverage remaining.
“This package is a joke compared to what we could have gotten if we had a more reasonable approach,” he said. “But live and learn; we’ll be doing this in a couple months.”
Graham was referring to the fact that the current deal only extends government funding and the debt ceiling by a few months — something that means we could very well be headed for a similar clash very soon.
“For the party, this is a moment of self evaluation, we are going to assess how we got here,” Graham said. “If we continue down this path, we are really going to hurt the Republican Party long-term.”
As Congress scrambles to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling, there’s a bit of confusion about the timing here. The date Oct. 17 gets tossed around as a hard deadline. But that’s probably not the date when we’ll see lots of financial disruptions or missed payments.
Oct. 17 is simply the day that the Treasury Department runs out of room to maneuver under the statutory debt limit. It’s not necessarily the day that the U.S. government starts missing payments if Congress fails to lift the ceiling.
The real crises are likely to occur a little later, some time between Oct. 22 and Nov. 1, though it’s hard to pinpoint an exact day. A crisis could come later than that — or even sooner than expected.
It’s likely that soon Congress will vote to raise the debt ceiling for the 43rd time since 1980, or, more than once a year on average. PostTV’s “In Play” explains why members of Congress and presidents from both parties continue to hike up a debt ceiling that has now reached 16.7 trillion dollars. (Watch the video here)
Markets are moving higher this morning on optimism over a possible deal to raise the debt limit and end the 16-day-old government shutdown.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose by 188 points, up 1.24 percent, to 15356.46 in late morning trading after top aides to Senate leaders said they were working to finalize an agreement to avert a debt-ceiling crisis.
But, as The Post’s Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane write, it was unclear whether the legislation could become law before the Treasury Department exhausts its borrowing power Thursday.
Amid reports that the House will vote first on the Senate’s plan to reopen government and extend the debt limit, senior GOP aides in the House and Senate cautioned Wednesday morning that no decisions have been made. And House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) confirmed that House leaders are still figuring out how to proceed.
“No decision,” McCarthy said after a meeting of House leadership.
The aides insist that the House moving first — which would expedite the process — is a possibility but they have not yet decided on that path. Boehner met with McCarthy and other members of his leadership team this morning, but the group made no decisions about how to proceed.
Part of the issue, they note, is that there still is no actual plan for the House to evaluate. The Senate plan is in the final stages, but House Republicans are awaiting Senate Republicans’ sign-off on the final details.
Leading conservative Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who was not in the meeting, acknowledged it appeared the House will likely move the Senate deal — something that would likely require it to pass with mostly Democratic votes.
“It seems to be where it’s headed,” Jordan said. But he said he and other conservatives will remain strenuously opposed: “It’s not what needs to happen.”
Separately, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told Bloomberg News that it was his understanding that the House would vote on the Senate plan. Brady noted, however, that he had not spoken to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Paul Kane contributed to this post.
Presidents are traditionally the stars of America’s unruly political drama. So what does a president do when he isn’t — and the country is on the verge of crisis?
Answering that question has been President Obama’s challenge, in ways political and personal, since the government shut down more than two weeks ago.
His pledge not to negotiate with congressional Republicans over raising the borrowing limit and reopening the government has left him more observer than actor as the country stumbles toward a cash crunch.
The federal government is in danger of losing its ability to maneuver the nation’s financial books as early as Thursday, leaving the Treasury Department with the possibility of not being able to pay its bills. About $328 billion in payments are due between Friday and Nov. 15, but the government will have only about $222 billion to spend in that period, according to estimates by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
How would you fund the government in a debt crisis? Use The Post’s calculator to decide which departments would get your support and which would not.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa opened Wednesday’s hearing on the National Park Service’s shutdown strategy in typical bombastic fashion.
The California Republican first sharply lectured Park Service leadership for “not living up to” its obligations, as Park Service Director Jon Jarvis shifted uncomfortably in the hot seat. But that was just warm-up.
“You’re not here for the first time,” Issa noted, recalling a previous dressing down the committee had given him, during the Occupy Wall Street protests. ”You came before one of our committees and made it clear that you were going to re-interpret the First Amendment to include basically people sleeping in the parks, defecating on the lawns, creating a health hazard for the people of the District of Columbia.”
Ah, so many fond memories…
The head of the organization that has led the Defund Obamacare effort acknowledged in an interview Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act won’t be repealed until at least 2017.
“Everybody understands that we’re not going to be able to repeal this law until 2017 and that we have to win the Senate, and we have to win the White House,” Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said on Fox News.
While Needham’s comments caught the attention of some, considering his group has led the effort to roll back the federal health-care law, it should be noted that repealing and defunding the law are two different things. The latter is a budgetary maneuver intended to undercut the program — in the absence of repeal — while the former would do away with it entirely.
As long as President Obama is in office, repealing the law would require both chambers overriding his veto — a level of support that is extremely unlikely before 2017.
Despite polls showing that more people blame Republicans than Democrats for the current mess in Washington, at least one Democrat says nobody will emerge as the winner regardless of the outcome.
“There are no winners here,” Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said on CNN. “Bottom line: We’re going to reopen government, we’re not going to default. That’s, like, very low expectations.”
The ball is now in the Senate’s court, but because of the odd machinations of Congress, the House may actually be asked to vote on the Senate’s proposal first.
Late Tuesday, Democrats — and some Senate Republicans — were urging Boehner to draft the emerging Senate deal into legislation and let the House vote as soon as Wednesday. Given a House-passed bill, Reid could move much more quickly to final passage in the Senate, sending a bill to Obama’s desk before the Thursday deadline if Cruz and his allies did not object.
House GOP officials said they had yet to decide how to proceed. Passing the Senate bill before the Senate had even taken a vote would amount to a complete capitulation to the upper chamber, the latest embarrassment in a speakership riddled with dark moments.
That last part is key. Essentially, Boehner would not only be voting on the Senate’s proposal, but taking it up as if it were his own.
At this point, though, Boehner can make the argument that he tried two different paths Tuesday– and several prior to that — with no success. Voting on the Senate bill, he could argue, would represent a last-ditch effort.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proud moment for Boehner, and would risk even more of a backlash from the more conservative wing of the party than simply passing something that the Senate previously passed.
Starting on Oct. 11, depending on their pay cycle, some furloughed government workers who were supposed to get full paychecks didn’t get them. Another batch will come up short today, and a third gets hit Thursday. Presumably, some feds don’t have that thick a financial cushion, and might opt for the backup of people on the economic margins everywhere: Pawn shops.
Jessica Barakat, who manages the independent Crown Pawnbrokers on 14th Street NW, says she’s seen a few of them come in over the past few days. “I basically just hear reasons a lot, why people can’t make it through the week, when something unexpected happens, and people have to dip into their savings, or they don’t want to,” Barakat said. Fluctuations in gas prices have been a big reason why people need a short-term loan to get to work.
“And this is just a new one that we’ve heard: They’ve got no paycheck,” she says.
For federal employees, seeking unemployment compensation is one clear example of how the government shutdown is much harsher than a “temporary inconvenience,” as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) recently declared.
The District, Maryland and Virginia all report sky-high levels of unemployment claims from federal employees after the shutdown began Oct. 1. Since my colleague Luz Lazo reported on the increase in applications just days after that, the numbers have exploded.
For numbers from the District, Maryland and Virginia, head to The Federal Diary.
By the time Monique Henderson’s half paycheck for $365.54 arrived Friday, the single mother of two who works as a legal assistant for the Social Security Administration had already figured she wouldn’t be able to pay the rent.
She was behind on her electric bill and had racked up debt buying TVs, a computer and cellphones. Her 12-year-old daughter had already outgrown her expensive public school uniform and needed a new one. And with grocery bills mounting and nothing to pay them with, Henderson had spent six hours the previous day in line to apply for food stamps.
So Tuesday, even as lawmakers held out the promise of a deal to reopen the government, Henderson, 33, pulled out cardboard boxes she had stacked behind the couch in her living room and began to pack. She has no choice, she said, but to move back home with her mother, to her girlhood room with the 3-D art she made in high school still on the walls.
Read more about Henderson and other federal workers struggling during the shutdown.
As the shutdown continues, young federal workers put their spare time to good use by volunteering at DC Central Kitchen. But with seemingly stable government jobs no longer a sure thing, these young feds voice their frustrations to The Fold’s Henry Kerali.
From The Fix’s Chris Cillizza:
In the wake of Speaker of the House John A. Boehner’s failure to re-inject the views of House Republicans into the Senate compromise talks on the debt ceiling and the government shutdown, there’s only one question anyone is asking: Where does the Speaker go from here?
From Zachary Goldfarb:
Confused by all the crazy ups and downs of Washington over the government shutdown and debt ceiling? Here’s a five-minute primer on what’s happening today.