Welcome to Day 14 of the shutdown. The weekend came and went with the attention increasingly turning to the Senate, where both parties continue to negotiate in hopes of striking a deal to turn the government lights back on and to lift the debt ceiling. But with the nation only three days from Oct. 17—which Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said will mark the day the nation will reach its borrowing limit—there's little if any room for error.
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.
—A small sampling of Slate's more recent shutdown coverage—
- Dickeson: Why Harry Reid Rejected the GOP's Best Offer So Far
- Saletan: It Took Plunging Markets and Dismal Poll Numbers to Scare Republicans Into Action
- Yglesias: The One Piece of Debt Ceiling Investment Advice You Need
- Weigel: Tea Party Conservatives Occupy the National Mall to Blame Everybody Else
6:20 p.m.: Harry Reid Adjourns the Senate until Tuesday Morning, via CBS News:
And with that, Reid moved to adjourn the Senate until 10AM tomorrow: Day 15 of the shutdown & 2 days till first risk of default.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 14, 2013
4:35 p.m.: Medical Device Tax Off the Table (For Now), via HuffPo:
A Republican source told The Huffington Post that changes to Obamacare's tax on medical devices will not be in the final debt ceiling/CR deal being constructed by the Senate. But there will be a pledge, however informal, to consider that issue when the two sides reprise this debate when the next continuing resolution to fund the government expires on Jan. 15, 2014. "The package does not include a delay or repeal of the medical device tax, but some assurance would be given by both sides that the issue will remain on the table for Round 2 of negotiations," the source said.
4:25 p.m.: Senate Talks Getting (Very) Specific, via WaPo:
In addition to reopening the government and extending the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority, the emerging Senate deal would also require additional safeguards to ensure that people who receive federal subsidies to purchase health insurance are in fact eligible to receive them.
In exchange, Democrats were seeking a delay of the so-called “belly button tax,” a tax on existing policies that is set to add roughly $63 per covered person — including spouses and dependents — to the cost of health insurance next year. Under the emerging agreement, the tax would be delayed to 2015, sparing organized labor as well as major employers.
4 p.m.: Wall Street Believes, via Reuters:
U.S. stocks ended a volatile session with slight gains on Monday as investors bet that there would soon be a deal in Washington to increase the debt limit, though there were no obvious signs of progress. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 63.90 points, or 0.42 percent, at 15,301.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 7.03 points, or 0.41 percent, at 1,710.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 23.40 points, or 0.62 percent, at 3,815.28.
3:35 p.m.: A Reminder Not to Get Too Excited About a Senate Deal, via Moneybox:
[I]t can't be emphasized enough that a Senate deal doesn't actually solve anything. After all, back before the government shut down, the Senate passed a "clean" continuing resolution that funded the government at the GOP's proposed level but didn't repeal the Affordable Care Act. The reason the government shut down is that House Republicans wouldn't allow that clean CR to come to the floor. If they had brought it to the floor, it probably would have passed. But it didn't. And this continues to be the issue with any deal. What McConnell says or does may matter in some psychological or sense in terms of "optics."
But in the real world what matters is what the House GOP leadership wants to do. So far throughout this crisis, Boehner and his team have put caucus unity ahead of the good of the economy. And since Boehner's caucus includes a lot of people who are acting crazy, prioritizing caucus unity keeps leading to crazy outcomes. The only way out of this box is for Boehner to stop doing that.
2:45 p.m.: A Little More Time to Negotiate, via Politico:
The White House said it is postponing a meeting with congressional leaders slated for 3 p.m. as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell close in on a budget deal.
2:15 p.m.: A Growing Sense of Optimism, via Associated Press:
The Senate's top two leaders both expressed optimism Monday that they were closing in on an agreement to prevent a national financial default and reopen the government after a two-week partial shutdown. After meeting twice Monday with his Republican counterpart, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate session by saying he was 'very optimistic we will reach an agreement this week that's reasonable in nature." Moments later, Republican leader Mitch McConnell seconded Reid's view.
They spoke after what McConnell termed "a couple of very useful discussions."
Officials in both parties said House and Senate negotiators would be appointed to seek a deficit-reduction agreement that could ease or eliminate a new round of automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January. While the current round of these cuts fell on both domestic programs and defense, the upcoming reductions would hit primarily the Pentagon.
12:05 p.m.: Afternoon Action as Congressional Leaders Head to the White House, via WaPo:
President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet with the top-ranking House and Senate leaders in both parties this afternoon at 3 p.m., a White House official said. Obama will huddle at the White House with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
12 p.m.: Reid Makes an Offer, via Politico:
Harry Reid has privately offered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a deal that would reopen the government until mid-to-late December while extending the U.S. debt ceiling until next year, according to several sources familiar with the talks.
The proposal would set up a framework for larger budget negotiations with the House over the automatic sequestration spending cuts and and other major deficit issues, the sources said. Moreover, Senate Democrats are open to delaying Obamacare’s medical device tax and a requirement that those receiving Obamacare subsidies be subject to income verification — but they would have to get something from Republicans in return, sources said.
McConnell is still reviewing the offer and is privately huddling with groups of GOP senators Monday who could be key to providing enough votes in the Senate. On Monday morning, McConnell met with Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Mark Kirk of Illinois.
11:20 a.m.: The Best Hope For a Deal Is Being Hashed Out By Two Men Who Aren't on the Best of Terms, via WaPo:
When Washington is in crisis and every other option has fallen to pieces ... Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are usually the ones who put it all back together. But if the two wily 70-somethings who are trying to resolve the current crisis make a deal once again, they will do so despite an increasingly bitter and distant relationship that some say is so fraught with animosity that it endangers their talks.
The rift traces to 2010, when Reid thought McConnell wasn’t upfront about how aggressively he would try to help defeat the Democrat in his tough reelection race in Nevada. McConnell, now dealing with a difficult campaign of his own in Kentucky, is incensed that Reid appears to be more than returning the favor. In recent years, McConnell has gone around Reid to cut deals with Vice President Biden. On the Senate floor, their rhetoric has grown so heated that their colleagues recently held the equivalent of an intervention. Off the floor, their relationship has been marked by personal slights.
10:30 a.m.: Senate Dems on Offense, via the Wall Street Journal:
The talks also showed Senate Democrats moving aggressively to press their top priorities in a pact that would be presented to the Republican-controlled House at a moment when voting it down could put the nation closer to potential default. Senate Democrats have been strengthened by the sidelining, at least for now, of House conservatives, who dropped nearly all their major policy demands only to see Mr. Obama reject their proposal for ending the stalemate.
With Senate leaders now negotiating, the fiscal battle focused for the first time in weeks on the budget itself, not on side issues that had dominated, such as the Republican demand that the 2010 health-care law be delayed or altered. Republicans who had opposed the GOP's "defund Obamacare'' strategy welcomed the return of interest to basic spending issues.
9:35 a.m.: A Numbers Game, via Politico:
McConnell, who faces a tough reelection battle next year in Kentucky, is in a particularly tricky spot. If he accepts higher spending levels, he’ll be derided by conservatives for caving at a critical moment, and the plan could face a hostile reception from House Speaker John Boehner’s raucous Republican Conference. But if he can’t get a deal with Reid, Democrats will accuse him of helping perpetuate a damaging fiscal crisis.
Republicans began to warn Sunday the White House and Reid were in danger of “overreaching” themselves, arguing that Democrats were showing little willingness to make any concessions even as the GOP was eagerly looking for a way out of a crisis that has badly hurt its party. “It’s time for Democrat leaders to take yes for an answer,” McConnell said Sunday before his call with Reid.
Republican leaders are eager to lock in funding levels consistent with the automatic sequestration cuts enacted by the 2011 Budget Control Act, meaning government funding would be slashed to $967 billion after Jan. 15, 2014. That number is far too low for many Democrats, including Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who is pushing for funding at $1.058 trillion, consistent with the Democratic budget blueprint adopted by the Senate earlier this year.
9:15 a.m.: Your Weekend Recap, via the Washington Post:
What started as a mad dash to strike a deal to lift the federal debt limit slowed to a crawl over the weekend as stalemated Senate leaders waited nervously to see whether financial markets would plunge Monday morning and drive the other side toward compromise.
Republicans seemed to think they had more to lose. After talks broke down between President Obama and House leaders, GOP senators quickly cobbled together a plan to end the government shutdown — now entering its third week — and raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) then asked Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to elevate negotiations to the highest level.
On Sunday — with the Treasury Department due to exhaust its borrowing power in just four days — Reid was wielding that leverage to maximum advantage. Rather than making concessions that would undermine Obama’s signature health-care initiative, as Republicans first demanded, Democrats are now on the offensive and seeking to undo what has become a cherished prize for the GOP: deep agency spending cuts known as the sequester. Reid and McConnell spoke only once Sunday, a telephone call in the afternoon, aides said. As he closed a rare Sunday session of the Senate, Reid characterized the conversation as “productive” and “substantive.”
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