Around-the-clock political news and analysis from Reuters. Follow @ReutersPolitics for more.
The WSJ reports that a group of House Democrats publicly endorsed repealing the health-care law’s tax on medical devices on Thursday, marking the first time that a coalition of Democrats have publicly supported altering President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement as a way out of the budget impasse (WSJ).
Reuters David Lawder reports: U.S. Senate Democrats will insist on "clean" bills to raise the federal debt limit and restore government funding that are free of conditions, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday. The U.S. Treasury has forecast that it will exhaust all of its borrowing capacity on Oct. 17 if Congress fails to raise the $16.7 trillion U.S. debt limit, putting the United States at risk of a historic default that economists say would cause major turmoil in global financial markets and economies.
Scenes of a Shutdown: Day 3U.S. Senator Rand Paul (L) talks with Senator John Barroso (2nd L, seated) and Senator Johnny Isakson (3rd L, back to camera) on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernstby Margarita Noriega (Reuters)People walk past the U.S. Capitol, seen through a porthole in nearby brickwork, in Washington, October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernstby Margarita Noriega (Reuters)U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the government funding impasse at M. Luis Construction, a local small business in Rockville, Maryland, near Washington, October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reedby Margarita Noriega (Reuters)PreviousNext
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Run Washington reports that the "federal government shutdown had been light on runners for two days, but Wednesday night saw a flurry of decisions that impacted weekend racing schedules, with the postponement of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon and the Run! Geek! Run! 8k.
"Though runners have largely had their run of National Park Service land since Tuesday morning, with vehicle traffic closed on Rock Creek Park’s Beach Drive and most of East Potomac Park’s Hains Point. The problem, however, is the provision in the shutdown the rescinds special events permits, necessary for holding races. Wilson Bridge Half Race Director Steve Nearman made the call to postpone the race until Nov. 10 Wednesday night. More than eight miles of the course follows the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a National Park."
A House Republican lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder fell victim to the government shutdown on Thursday, writes Reuters David Ingram, and a federal judge told lawmakers they had themselves to blame:
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson temporarily stayed the suit in which Republicans are seeking to enforce a subpoena for documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, a botched effort to counter gun-trafficking along the U.S. border with Mexico. Most lawsuits that involve the U.S. government were halted nationwide because of the shutdown and related furloughs, with some exceptions such as the government’s challenge to the $11 billion merger of American Airlines and US Airways.
Republicans said their suit should be another exception because it is a high-stakes battle between two branches of government. Jackson disagreed and wrote in an order that, “while the vast majority of litigants who now must endure a delay in the progress of their matters do so due to circumstances beyond their control, that cannot be said of the House of Representatives, which has played a role in the shutdown.” Jackson, an Obama appointee to the federal court in Washington, also wrote that there were no “exigent circumstances in this case that would justify an order of the court forcing furloughed attorneys to return to their desks.”
Here’s the full text of the judge’s order from Thursday:
MINUTE ORDER granting  defendant's Motion to Stay. It is ORDERED that defendant's motion to stay is GRANTED. It is further ORDERED that defendant shall notify the Court within two business days of the Department of Justice Civil Division's resumption of operations, at which time the Court will set a due date for the submission of a proposed schedule for further proceedings. There are no exigent circumstances in this case that would justify an order of the Court forcing furloughed attorneys to return to their desks. Moreover, while the vast majority of litigants who now must endure a delay in the progress of their matters do so due to circumstances beyond their control, that cannot be said of the House of Representatives, which has played a role in the shutdown that prompted the stay motion. Signed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on 10/3/13.
Newt Gingrich -- famously known for leading, as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican party during a shutdown against then-president Bill Clinton -- writes in TIME on Thursday that the current shutdown is nothing like that of 1995-1996 because shutdowns were part of negotiations between parties, not the end of it:
"Back in 1995, we were used to shutdowns as part of the negotiating process. Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill had twelve shutdowns during his Speakership. Not so today, as seen both in the news media and in the hysteria of President Obama and the Democrats. Until this week, there had been seventeen years without a legislative-executive confrontation that led to a shutdown."
READ: Founding Fathers Liked Shutdowns
“We’re not going to be disrespected,” conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., added. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
That's the quote that's been ricocheting around Twitter and political circles since Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) gave it to the Washington Examiner yesterday. President Obama just held it up as an example of House Republican instransigence and dysfunction.
Chad Pergram of Fox News reports on Twitter that Stutzman may now be trying to walk the quote back:
Stutzman: Yesterday, I carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate and Speaker Boehner’s work on behalf of the American people.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 3, 2013
Stutzman: Despite my remarks it’s clear that the American people want both parties to come to the table to reopen the government...— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 3, 2013
Obama just finished speaking at a Maryland construction plant, and as Steve Holland of Reuters tweeted during the speech, he got personal in his attacks on House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner in particular. Accusing Boehner of obstructing a vote on the Senate's clean funding bill to avoid angering "extremists" in his party, Obama said that Boehner is the only thing keeping the government shut down. Putting on his whip counting visor, Obama echoed the numbers Harry Reid and other Democrats are increasingly referencing to say that a clean bill would pass the House with bipartisan support if Boehner simply brought it to the floor.
The rhetoric kept burning from there. Obama called the shutdown a "farce" being driven by "the Republican obsession" with weakening Obamacare. Acknowledging the industrial setting of the speech, Obama told those gathered at the plant that they'd be "fired" if they gummed up operations to this degree. He also ridiculed yesterday's oft-cited quote from Republican Rep. Stutzman about having "no idea" what GOP representatives are fighting for.
The speech came down to another appeal to the American people, as Obama and his allies continue to rely on public opinion to build in their favor and force House Republicans to capitulate. Bringing up the looming debt limit battle, Obama said that Americans will not be "pawns" in a political game, especially one that will cause global destabilization should it come to pass. Acknowledging an inherent decency in regular Americans, Obama ended by asking Congress to show the same to those it represents and start acting with more sense as the crisis only gets worse.
Reuters' David Lawder reports: a few Republicans- Massie, Rand Paul, Mulvaney, Barrasso, Guthrie - seem to be staging an event on the Senate steps. Carper joined them and said "alright everyone, let's sing kumbaya!" They are talking about NASCAR and drinking coffee brought in from Corner Bakery.
Reuters' Patricia Zengerle's sends this update: "It was a coffee klatsch organized by Paul. They wanted Reid. But he sent Delaware Senator Thomas Carper."
Sen. Reid asked Tom Carper to go in his stead to Rand Paul's coffee summit. So was it bipartisan? "Since I was there--yes!" Carper laughed.by SuzyKhimm via twitter 10/3/2013 3:40:08 PM
Reuters Jason Lange reports: The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits remained at pre-recession levels last week but growth in the massive U.S. service sector cooled in September as firms took on fewer new workers. The data could provide some of the strongest guidance this week on the health of the U.S. economy as a partial government shutdown delays the release of other data, including the monthly employment report that was scheduled to be released on Friday.
In his speech in Maryland on Thursday, President Obama said that the longer the government shutdown continued, the worse the impact will be, adding that House Speaker John Boehner will not allow a vote to end the shutdown because he doesn't want to anger "extremists" in the Republican party. Obama said that the shutdown is because of a Republican "obsession" with dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
"You don't save money by not paying your bills," Obama said on the current shutdown repeating his use of the phrase "deadbeat" in reference to the government's non-payment of bills due to the shutdown.
Obama, saying that there will be no negotiations over the shutdown, stated that the United States is at the center of the global economy and the shutdown will have negative impacts on the world: "If we screw up, everybody's get screw up."
David Lawder and Caren Bohan write: With the U.S. government shutdown in its second day on Wednesday and no end in sight, a worrisome reality is sinking in on Capitol Hill: The standoff is merging with a much more complex fight in mid-October over raising the federal debt limit.
The result could be a dangerous and unpredictable fiscal superstorm that may be harder to resolve than the shutdown alone or the 2011 debt limit struggle that sent financial markets plummeting and brought the United States to the brink of default.
The central problem is that congressional Republicans view the debt ceiling as their best chance to negotiate concessions from President Barack Obama, while at the same time, Obama says he will not negotiate around the debt ceiling, as he did in 2011.
READ: U.S. government shutdown fight could morph into debt limit superstorm
Reuters' Timothy Ahmann reports: the U.S. Labor Department on Thursday said the government's employment report for September will not be released as scheduled on Friday due to the government shutdown and that a new release date had not yet been set.
"Due to the lapse in funding, the Employment Situation release which provides data on employment during the month of September ... will not be issued as scheduled on Friday," it said. "An alternative release date has not been scheduled."
U.S. diplomat Wendy Sherman says the U.S.' ability to enforce sanctions on Iran is being hampered by the government shutdown.
READER COMMENT: Has anyone in the Obama Administration ever seriously considered bypassing Congress by one of the 3 ways described in an article by Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale Law School? This article was written on July 28, 2011 concerning an upcoming budget debate with the threat of a government shutdown and ultimate default. I include the following thread: www.cnn.com
The Senate and House have convened for Wednesday, bringing the federal government to its third day of shutdown.
After remarks from congressional leaders on a late Wednesday meeting with President Obama at the White House, it appears that the focus for congressional negotiation rests on agreement with the federal spending ceiling, which Republicans propose at $988 billion, and whether legislation regarding the federal budget should involve any cuts to programs and services related to the Affordable Care Act.
Wednesday evening, House Republicans passed two mini-funding bills focused on national parks and the National Institutes of Health, which Senate Democrats have vowed to reject since it is not part of a full, comprehensive budget package, or a "clean" continuing resolution (CR).
Meanwhile, Americans off all political persuasions continue to live under the current law of the land: the new healthcare laws are still intact, even while the government remains unfunded outside of essential programs.
What will Thursday hold? When will the House and Senate find agreement on the budget?
Thank you for joining us for another day of political news and analysis coverage. We will return on Thursday in hopes we can find some answers to these questions.
Notes on Statements Made After White House, Congressional Leaders Meeting Late Wednesday
Republican House Speaker John Boehner made remarks first, coming out of the White House after a meeting with President Obama. Boehner said President Obama reiterated that he would not "negotiate" -- question is, of course, on what?
Senator Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi followed Boehner out of the White House to give the media remarks on behalf of the House and Senate Democrats.
Senator Reid, rebuffing Boehner's comments, says they offered Boehner the option of going to conference on federal budget, spending, agriculture, parks, healthcare, "anything." Reid says Boehner sought a short-term continuing resolution solution, but Reid is looking for a long-term solution.
House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi follows Reid, giving a bit of history on the federal budget negotiations which have been ongoing since March of 2013. Rep. Pelosi says the current Republican proposal on the federal spending is "far too low." Pelosi: "I can only conclude that they want the government shut down."
Reid, speaking again, adds that he will be happy to work with Speaker Boehner on a continuing resolution but that he is tired of "playing these little games" with Obamacare. Reid: "we are locked in tight on Obamacare."
Switching between topics, Pelosi spoke again: "we should take debt ceiling debate off the table... no president should be held hostage... closing the government is bad... Every bill... is subject to passing in Congress... [Republicans] have every opportunity... to make whatever changes they want [on the Affordable Care Act]" outside of negotiating federal spending and the debt limit.
In final remarks, Rep. Pelosi said that House Democrats are willing to accept the $988 billion spending budget number that House Republicans propose, despite it being "too low" -- but Democrats are unwilling to accept the repeal or de-funding in any manner of the Affordable Care Act.
House rejects effort to consider clean CR to re-open gov't on procedural vote. 230 to 194. House now voting on mini spending bill to re-open national parks.by Chad Pergram via twitter edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 10/2/2013 10:32:41 PM
Members tell me the leadership has all but officially decided to blend any CR agreement into larger debt deal later this month/Novby Robert Costa via twitter 10/2/2013 10:24:04 PM
Senate has already adjourned for the day, so the government shutdown will go into day three. House Dems trying to offer Senate CR in motion to recommit, but chair ruled that it exceeded scope of parks bill. In theory, the House could overturn the ruling of the chair and allow Senate CR vote, but that rarely happensby Jamie Dupree via twitter edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 10/2/2013 10:22:22 PM
Rush hour on the DC metro systemby nielslesniewski via twitter edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 10/2/2013 10:18:35 PM
By my records, the four congressional leaders last met with Pres Obama on June 25 to discuss foreign policy issues.by Mark Knoller via twitter edited by Margarita Noriega (Reuters) 10/2/2013 10:06:58 PM
CNN Reporter Dana Bash: "You all talked about children with cancer unable to go to clinical trials. The House is presumably going to pass a bill that funds at least the NIH. Given what you've said, will you at least pass that? And if not, aren't you playing the same political games that Republicans are?"
Senator Reid: "Listen, Sen. Durbin explained that very well, and he did it here, did it on the floor earlier, as did Sen. Schumer. What right did they have to pick and choose what part of government is going to be funded? It's obvious what's going on here. You talk about reckless and irresponsible. Wow. What this is all about is Obamacare. They are obsessed. I don't know what other word I can use. They're obsessed with this Obamacare. It's working now and it will continue to work and people will love it more than they do now by far. So they have no right to pick and choose."
Bash: But if you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn't you do it?
Reid: Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is -- to have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing maybe means you're irresponsible and reckless --
Bash: I'm just asking a question.
How did the veteran barricade come to the hallowed memorial sites in Washington, DC? Reuters Patricia Zengerle in Washington tells us more:
There’s a sideshow to every government fight, and the shutdown’s is an unlikely one: World War Two veterans and their access to the World War Two memorial. A group of veterans wanted to visit the barricaded memorial on Monday during the first hours of the shutdown. But before doing so, they got in touch with a handful of Republican members of Congress. With the lawmakers and their staffs – and a reporter from Stars & Stripes on hand – they made a public show of removing the barriers and visiting the monument.
The veterans came to Washington via the “Honor Flight” program, which brings veterans of World War Two, Korea and Vietnam to Washington on one-day trips to visit the monuments to their conflicts.
Republicans, whom polls show most Americans blame for the shutdown, have seized upon access to the memorial to attack congressional Democrats – and President Barack Obama – for the government closure. On Wednesday, Republican house members held a press conference on the west side of the Capitol, with a view of the memorials. And the head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, stood at the memorial to announced that the RNC would pay security expenses so the memorial could stay open for visitors during the shutdown.
The Democrats, unwilling to cede a point that might be bad publicity, said they were working on a plan to open the memorial – by ending the shutdown. “It would save the economy a lot of money and get the Memorial and government open a whole lot faster,” Mo Elleithee, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement.
Hundreds of federal employees who work at the National Mall and its monuments have been placed on furlough because of the shutdown.
The Senate stands adjourned until 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.by mpoindc via twitter 10/2/2013 9:07:36 PM
Scenes of a Shutdown: Day 2U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) (L-R), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 2, 2013. U.S. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernstby Margarita Noriega (Reuters)John Zangas (L), who identified himself as a federal employee, and Janette Dunder (R) protest against the current government shutdown at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 2, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernstby Margarita Noriega (Reuters)U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) (R) talks with veteran Pete Bollinger of the Franklin County, Missouri Honor Flight at the World War Two Memorial in Washington October 2, 2013. The memorial is technically closed due to the government shutdown, but was opened today and yesterday for visiting veteran groups. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarqueby Margarita Noriega (Reuters)U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (C) refers to the closed memorials and museums on the National Mall as he and Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) (L) lead House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernstby Margarita Noriega (Reuters)The Capitol Visitor's Center remains shuttered to tour groups as the U.S. government shutdown continues at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 2, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernstby Margarita Noriega (Reuters)PreviousNext
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NBC reports a "bumpy" first day for the Affordable Care Act implementation on Tuesday.
What's next? President Obama will meet with Congressional leaders at 5:30pm EDT to discuss the budget. We expect some type of news once that meeting is over. I am preparing a slideshow of pictures from around Washington DC now - stick with us. Have a question? Feel free to submit it using the options above.
Notes from President Obama's interview on CNBC late Wednesday:
Obama told CNBC on Wednesday that he is not going to engage in a series of negotiations with Congress until a bill to open the government is passed.
"Even on an issue like healthcare if they [Republicans] want to give me specific suggestions" he is happy to listen, Obama says.
Shifting to the topic of political wrangling, Obama commented "this is a problem with a particular section of the Republican party."
Obama said he will continue to talk to business leaders in and outside of Washington about the Affordable Care Act: "this is a situation in which once we get back to a normal process of bargaining, it wont be pretty and people may not like every outcome -- that's why we have elections -- but at least we can feel confident that small businesses are getting loans through the SBA.
"The biggest concern I have day to day is how this is impacting middle class citizens."
"Congress has two jobs: pass a budget, pay its bills"
Responding to a question about whether some American groups like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) more than others, Obama responds: "When you break out what's actually in ACA, it's popular among all groups [of Americans]."
More from Reuters' Steve Holland: In CNBC interview, Obama described himself as exasperated that Republicans refused to drop demands that led to the government shutting down on Tuesday.
"Am I exasperated? Absolutely I'm exasperated," he said, because the shutdown was totally unnecessary.
Obama said Wall Street should be concerned that a faction of Republicans in the House of Representatives seemed willing to allow the United States to default on its debt in order to push their demand that funding be cut for Obama's signature healthcare law.
U.S. stocks ended lower on Wednesday on the second day of a partial U.S. government shutdown shortly before congressional leaders and President Barack Obama were scheduled to meet to discuss the budget.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 61.71 points, or 0.41 percent, at 15,129.99. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 1.35 points, or 0.08 percent, at 1,693.65. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 2.96 points, or 0.08 percent, at 3,815.02.
New updates from Reuters' Patricia Zengerle:
In 2011, the last time there was fear of a government shutdown and debt limit breach, the stock market plunged. Between July 7-Aug. 9, 2011, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2,150 points, or 16.9 percent. The S&P during that same period fell 18.8 percent.
The Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money in politics, is keeping a close eye on the government shutdown. On Monday, the group reported that seven members of Congress had scheduled campaign fundraisers this week, despite the looming shutdown. . So far, four have been cancelled, one – a lunch for Rep. Gene Green, a Texas Republican – happened on Tuesday, and two appear to be still on. Events for Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat, Rep. Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican, and Rep. Lois Capps, another California Democrat, were cancelled. Events for Rep. Charlie Rangel and either other Democrats in Washington on Wednesday and an Arkansas trout fishing retreat for Senator John Boozman appear to be still on, according to Sunlight.
Here’s a link to their site: sunlightfoundation.com
READER COMMENT: I don't agree with the way they are handling things as far as the shutdown. But I do have to say, that I also do not agree with the Affordable Health Care Act either. How can one call it affordable to those working middle class people, myself a single mother supporting my children on my own and finding out that my insurance rates are going up, my coverage is going down and my deductables are going to triple? Nor am I eligible for any of the tax credits due to the fact that my company offers insurance plans. I do believe this needs to be addressed, but most certainly not with a standoff and shutdown of our government!!
Readers, now that Majority Leader Reid and his fellow Senate Democratic leaders have finished their presser, we've moved off of our video feeds for the time being. Action this afternoon may merely be lead-up to the White House meeting between major congressional leaders and President Obama set for 5:30pm ET. The legislative gears appear to be stalled in the meantime, but we will be back with House or Senate video and other coverage as warranted.
Below, you can read the letter from Reid to Speaker Boehner that Reid referenced during the press conference, saying that he's outlined many Republican-favored "goodies" like tax reform that he would offer as part of long-term fiscal talks once the government shutdown is lifted. One wonders what sort of template Reid offers to Obama for the talks later, particularly given the president's insistence that he will not negotiate on what says is simply getting Congress to do its jobs of paying bills and providing reliable funding for government.
For now, you might look to the NYT's handy visual guide to the core House Republican group driving the anti-Obamacare shutdown efforts. A running theme today is tracking the House Republicans who would in fact vote for the "clean" continuing funding resolution passed by the Senate. The Washington Post has a count at 15 of current public supporters (a hypothetical floor bill may see many more), which is close to the number of Republican defections that could carry the bill in the 532-member House (three vacancies currently) with full support from its 200 Democrats. More on the math and Republican factions crippling Boehner here.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post editorial board blamed Republicans for the current government shutdown:
"...the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are failing. They should fulfill their basic duties to the American people or make way for legislators who will... This time, fiscal responsibility isn’t even a topic.
"Instead, Republicans have shut much of the government in what they had to know was a doomed effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. That law, in case you've forgotten in the torrent of propaganda, is hardly revolutionary. It is an effort to extend health insurance to some of the 40 million or so people in this country who have none. It acts through the existing private-insurance market. Republicans tried to block its passage and failed; they hoped to have it declared unconstitutional and failed; and they did their best to toss Mr. Obama out of the White House after one term in order to strangle it in its cradle, and they failed again."
U.S. Senate Democrats have released a list of 16 Republicans they say support a "clean" continuing resolution (CR) to pass a federal budget in the House of Representatives. The Washington Post puts that number closer to 15.
The New York Times published an interactive graphic of 20 House Republicans tying the Affordable Healthcare Act to federal budget legislation.
TEL AVIV, Israel - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday Israel and the Palestinians were still on schedule to reach a full Middle East peace deal by the end of April, and both sides were committed to the talks.
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