Welcome to Day 9 of the federal shutdown. Tuesday's action was largely dominated by dueling press conferences from President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, neither of which had kind things to say about the other. But despite the heated rhetoric—and questionable analogies—optimists saw enough to suggest that Washington might not be too far from a short-term solution that would kick the can down the road for a few weeks while saving the nation from crashing into the debt ceiling. Of course, a growing number of Republicans appear to have convinced themselves that defaulting isn't actually that big of a deal, so there's also a solid chance the two sides are actually moving farther apart than they were at the start of the week.
John Dickerson, Dave Weigel, Matt Yglesias, and the rest of Slate will continue to bring you in-depth analysis from Washington. But below you'll find a running list of today's smaller developments, rumors, links, and theories floating around inside the Beltway and out of it.
4:30 p.m.: Boehner Wants to Pick and Choose Which Republicans Meet With Obama, via Time:
Obama invited all members of Congress to the White House this week, but House Speaker John Boehner is dispatching only 18 of his 232 members to the meeting, Boehner’s office said. ... A Boehner spokesman said the House GOP meeting, scheduled for Thursday, 'is only worthwhile if it is focused on finding a solution' to the ongoing government shutdown and the looming debt-ceiling crisis. The spokesman, Brendan Buck, said the House GOP is sending a group of 'negotiators,' including the elected conference leadership and selected committee chairs.
2:45 p.m.: House Leaders' First Post-Shutdown Meeting, via ABC News:
The top four leaders of the House of Representatives met behind closed doors in the Speaker’s office today to discuss the shutdown showdown, which has dragged into its ninth day. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asked House Speaker John Boehner for the meeting, which began around 11:15 a.m. and ended about 40 minutes later, congressional sources said.
A top GOP leadership aide says Boehner invited Majority Leader Eric Cantor to join the meeting, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer also accompanied Pelosi, placing the House’s top echelon of leadership together behind closed doors for the first time since the shutdown began Oct. 1. ...
Still, spokespersons for each leader would not reveal many details about the meeting. Democratic aides refused to discuss what message Pelosi and Hoyer brought to the meeting so it’s unclear whether the Democratic leader stuck to pressuring Republicans to pass a clean continuing resolution to reopen government, or whether they have decided to cooperate with Republicans who have been pressuring Democrats to sit down and negotiate an agreement.
After the huddle concluded, House Speaker John Boehner went to the House floor to rip into Obamacare.
2:13 p.m.: White House Works on Fix For Vets' Death Benefits, via WaPo:
President Obama expects the freeze on death benefits paid to the families American military personnel who have died on active duty to be resolved Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
"When the president found out, he was upset, and he asked his lawyers and the OMB to find a solution," Carey told reporters Wednesday, referring to the Office of Management and Budget. "What I haven't seen is a solution from Congress, but he will have one today."
Carney said Obama was troubled when he found out that the bill, passed by Congress, to pay military members during the shutdown did not include the death benefits. He did not say what the resolution would entail or how it would be achieved.
1:30 p.m.: The Blame Game as Told by the Polls, via CBS News:
Nine days into the federal government shutdown, with the debt ceiling just around the corner, Republicans continue to hammer President Obama to negotiate to resolve both problems.
Whether the strategy will shift blame away from the GOP and onto the Democrats remains to be seen. Right now, Republicans are bearing the brunt of the responsibility for the crisis: A new Associated Press-GfK survey released Wednesday shows that 62 percent of adults surveyed online mainly blame Republicans for the current shutdown. About half said Mr. Obama or congressional Democrats bear the responsibility. These numbers echo a Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday which showed 70 percent of Americans disapproving of how the GOP is handling the budget negotiations, compared to 61 percent for Democrats and 51 percent for Mr. Obama.
The president's poll numbers aren't exactly rosy, either. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed in the AP poll disapproved of his job performance; only 37 approved. But Congress takes the cake on public disappointment with a mere 5 percent approval rating.
1:10 p.m.: Wall Streets Starting to Worry, via WSJ:
U.S. stocks were mostly lower as some of the year's best-performing stocks and sectors weighed on the market amid growing anxiety about gridlock in Washington. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost three points, less than 0.1%, to 14772 in midday trade. On Tuesday, the Dow slid 160 points, or 1.1%, to a six-week low. ...
Stock sectors that have outperformed the broader market this year took the worst hit in Wednesday's selling. Traders said that selling was broad in growth-sensitive sectors such as technology, consumer-discretionary shares and small stocks. Investors have been cutting back on their bets on growth as they worry that the political impasse in Washington could continue past the deadline to raise the debt ceiling late this month. Missing the deadline could lead to a default.
12:05 p.m.: Heritage Wants Fight About CR, Not Debt Ceiling, via HuffPo:
A crack appeared Wednesday morning in the conservatives' united front against President Barack Obama in the budget-and-borrowing crisis of 2013. Michael Needham, CEO of the powerful group Heritage Action, said that he opposed conditioning a crucial vote to increase the government's borrowing authority on the group's main goal: defunding Obamacare. ...
Rather than try to hold the debt ceiling vote hostage to the defunding of Obamacare, he said, the better "tactical" course for Heritage and other key foes of the administration is to continue to focus on annual spending -- and on allowing the full opening of government only if Obamacare is dismantled.
"No, we should raise the debt limit," he said, though he added that he would oppose an increase that extends until after the 2014 election, which is Obama's preferred outcome. ... "My tactic is to focus on the CR," he said.
11:40 a.m.: Are Obama and Reid on the Same Page?, via The Hill:
Senate Democrats and President Obama have split over important strategic decisions in the battle to raise the debt ceiling. Senate Democrats want to increase the nation’s borrowing authority for more than a year, taking Congress through the mid-term election.
Obama seemed to undercut them Tuesday afternoon when he said he could support a short-term legislation to fund government and raise the debt limit. ... At about the same time the president was holding his press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced to colleagues his intention to move legislation to authorize more than a year’s worth of additional borrowing power.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday said he is not interested in a short-term deal. But the fact that Obama left the door open to something Reid doesn’t support suggests the White House and congressional Democrats are not completely on the same page.
10:30 a.m.: Coburn Wants a "Managed Catastrophe," via WaPo:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Wednesday echoed comments by other Republicans that failing to meet the debt ceiling deadline next Thursday wouldn’t result in default or even economic catastrophe.
In fact, Coburn even suggested he would like the debt ceiling deadline to be breached, saying a “managed catastrophe” would be good for a country that has repeatedly put off tough decisions on government spending.
“I’d rather have a managed catastrophe now, which I don’t think will be there,” Coburn said on CNN. “Here’s the thing that all the media does: default equals not raising the debt ceiling. That’s not true. … Those are two different and distinct things. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pay our bills. What I’m saying is we should put ourselves in the position where we have to start making hard choices now.”
10:05 a.m.: The Missing Endgame, via Politico
In the many legislative wrestling matches since Republicans took the House in 2011, there has always been the faint signs of an endgame. Either Obama would cut a deal with Speaker John Boehner or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would work something out with Vice President Joe Biden. But this time, as Wall Street lights up the phones of rank-and-file House Republicans and public sentiment turns sharply against the party, things are stuck in neutral. It’s a dynamic that’s worrying senior Republican lawmakers and aides. ...
And, in [another] worrisome sign, GOP unity is beginning to fray, little by little. Conservative Republicans are beginning a push to force leadership to handle the debt ceiling and the government shutdown separately — a logistical challenge since the debt limit must be lifted by Oct. 17 and the government has been shut down for a week. This will be a major topic at Wednesday’s Republican Study Committee meeting.
9:45 a.m.: Enter Paul Ryan, NBC News' First Read:
For those looking to reopen the federal government and avoid default, yesterday was a pretty disheartening day, if you simply listened to the rhetoric. After President Obama floated a way out -- temporarily open the government and raise the debt to begin longer-term budget negotiations -- House Speaker John Boehner called it “unconditional surrender.” But as bad as the rhetoric was, there was actually some intriguing behind-the-scenes developments that shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, it could be the latest attempt by Boehner to bring this to an end. Yesterday, Republicans began floating proposals that had nothing to do with health care.
Moreover, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan argued for “both sides” to “agree to common-sense reforms of the country’s entitlement programs and tax code.” What he called for were some of the very things that Obama and Democrats have already put on the table. Medicare means-testing? Check. Further long-term entitlement cuts (like Chained CPI?)? Check. Bipartisan tax reform? Check. Most important, however, was what Ryan DIDN’T MENTION in the op-ed: any changes to the president’s health-care law. So Ryan’s op-ed is a pretty big deal; it’s an olive branch (from its tone) and it lays a potential way out.
9:30 a.m.: Obama to Meet With House Dems, via Reuters:
U.S. President Barack Obama has invited House of Representatives Democrats to meet Wednesday to discuss the budget crisis and a looming debt deadline, the first of a series of talks with lawmakers of both parties, a White House official said. Other caucuses, including Republicans from both houses of Congress, will be invited in coming days, the official said. The meeting Wednesday will take place at 4:30 p.m.
With no solution in sight to a fiscal drama that has begun to unsettle financial markets, the meetings signal the beginning of an attempt to avert a damaging debt default with just over a week left before a deadline cited by the Treasury Department.
9:05 a.m.: What the House's Piecemeal Politics Reveal, via the Washington Post:
If House Republicans could get their way, the National Institutes of Health would be open right now. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Transportation Safety Board would still be mostly shut down. There would be funding for Head Start. But no money to produce federal unemployment reports. The national parks would be open. But the national forests would not.
This is the odd, gaptoothed version of the U.S. government that the House GOP has sketched out over the past eight days in a series of spending bills that would reopen departments and agencies one piece at a time. ... The point is to make Democrats acknowledge something embarrassing — that even as they decry the shutdown, they will reject legislation to reopen popular agencies. But, in the process, House Republicans have revealed something about themselves: The party of small government is struggling — mightily — to decide how much government it actually wants.
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