Shutdown, Day 1: Updates
UPDATE: 4:12: House Votes Tonight
House Republican leaders announced their plans to begin floor action at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday on three bills to keep restart funding for three popular areas of government.
The votes are to occur before 6:15 p.m.
The three bills are dubbed the "Honoring our Promise to America's Veterans Act," the "Open Our Nation Parks and Museums Act," and the "Provide Local Funding for the District of Columbia Act." (By Billy House)
UPDATE: 3:20: Could You go to Jail in a Government Shutdown?
A shutdown can make a criminal out of the most surprising people. Take Jonathan Prince. Just your typical law-abiding presidential speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, until.... Let's let his Tweet sum it up: "@jonathanmprince: 95: Presidential speechwriters weren't "essential" so I had to hide in the WH while writing BC's first post #shutdown speech."
According to a decades-old law called the Anti-Deficiency Act, Prince had broken the law, and could be punished with fines and prison time (and not to mention he could have been fired). No matter, Clinton was scheduled to speak at the Democratic Leadership Council the next day, and he hoped to use that moment to give a big rallying speech about the shutdown. Prince would have to risk it.
"Was I worried?" Prince said when reached by phone. "Not Really. What are they going to do? Send me to jail because I was working on a president's speech?"
When told that technically that was a possibility, he said: "Well, hopefully the statue of limitations has passed on that one." (By Ben Terris)
UPDATE: 3:08 p.m. More Shutdown Gamesmanship?
House Republicans have a new plan to try and embarrass congressional Democrats, and it could see action as soon as this evening.
House Republicans expect to bring three separate funding bills to a vote that would reopen a few government agencies and operations. The vote would go through a procedural path that would require significant House Democratic support for passage. And then, if Democrats object and don't support the measures, Republicans hope blame for their failure would fall on Democrats.
The three bills, according to Republicans leaving a closed-door session, would fund the D.C. government, veterans' affairs programs, and national parks. But that list is not necessarily finalized.
The twist is that Republicans will put these bills' passages at risk for the sake of potential political points.
That's because, according to members, these items will be acted on through so-called "suspension votes," a process that normally is equated with non-controversial measures, which limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority for passage.
In other words, in a House chamber with 433 current members – even full support by the 233 members of the House Republican conference won't be enough. A big chunk of some of the 200 House Democrats will be needed for passage.
That means that even before we learn for sure if Senate Democrats would support this piecemeal plan—and early indications suggest they may not—Republicans will first have to deal with House Democrats.
But White House press secretary Jay Carney said the proposal "shows the utter lack of seriousness that we're seeing from Republicans."
"If they want to open the government, they should open the government, and then we can negotiate about how we fund our budget priorities in the future," said Carney during a briefing with reporters. (By Billy House)
UPDATE: 3:03 p.m.: Republican Freshman: GOP Losing This Fight
Elected in the freshman wave of 2010, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., is admitting that this fight just isn't breaking the GOP's way. When asked if he thought Obamacare would be implemented despite their efforts he said: "Ultimately that's going to happen, in my opinion. We have voted 41 times to defund it or get rid of it. If my people back home say: Oh my gosh you voted to fund Obamacare, so be it. We've lost this battle. We need to move on to the next one."
Hours later, his press person called to make it clear that he "wasn't trying to be defeatist." (By Ben Terris)
UPDATE: 2:39 p.m.: How the White House is Using Social Media Today
How do you get political points during a government shutdown? One way might be to limit your Instagram posts.
That's the strategy that the White House is attempting on Tuesday. In its single post of the day, it shows a dire message:
But while the Instagram feed is stagnant, aimed at riling up a younger audience, the White House's Twitter and Flickr accounts remain active, including this photo of the president meeting with his senior staff this morning:
Apparently some senior staff is clearly in the office to do these functions. (By Matt Vasilogambros)
UPDATE: 1:46 p.m.: Pass in Bits and Pieces?
Some Republicans in the House are talking about funding the government in parts. According to a Republican aide, a clean continuing resolution would be passed in pieces, at sequester levels, through Dec. 15. This would not be a normal appropriations bill.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said the House could vote on three of those pieces later on Tuesday, including Veterans' Affairs, District of Columbia funding, and national parks.
When asked if there was conservative backlash to this plan, "Everybody's happy."
Earlier on Tuesday, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said, "We're working on language to make sure the District of Columbia stays open."
This new tactic would "reopen certain aspects of the government important to people and show they're trying to work toward solutions," the aide said, "while at the same time giving time to come to a larger deal to reopen the entire federal government."
However, after his repeated rejections of anything but a complete clean CR, it is unclear that Reid would go for this proposal.
President Pro Tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., later dismissed the idea of a piecemeal approach as a "stunt" and called it "silly." (By Elahe Izadi and Michael Catalini)
UPDATE: 1:38 p.m.: On the Shutdown, Democrats Still Thinks Tea Party Republicans Lose Politically
Senate Democrats are swatting away the suggestion that they too could absorb some of the blame for the partial government shutdown.
Asked who he thinks would be blamed and whether Democrats could too face criticism, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said it would be the tea party Republicans.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., did not answer directly when asked if his constituents could put pressure him to negotiate with the House, but cast blame on the GOP.
"There's no question of compromise on we ought to be keeping the government open," he said. "This will hurt the Republican Party because it is a small group of the tea party that basically don't like government." (By Michael Catalini)
UPDATE: 1:24 p.m.: Obama: This Is a "Republican Shutdown"
Speaking from the Rose Garden Tuesday afternoon, President Obama called the federal closure a "Republican shutdown."
"Many representatives, including an increasing number of Republicans, have made it clear that had they been allowed by Speaker [John] Boehner to take a simple up or down vote on keeping the government open with no partisan strings attached, enough votes from both parties would have kept the American people's government open and operating," Obama said. Now that it's closed, Obama continued, it's up to House Republicans to fix it.
Until then, the 15 percent of Americans who are uninsured can start enrolling at the health insurance marketplace, he said. For some, the federal website, healthcare.gov, slowed or returned error messages for users trying to apply. Obama said such glitches are to be expected, saying that more than 1 million visitors to the site this morning created delay in the signup process. He likened the infant website to iOs7, Apple's latest software update, which received complaints from some users about the new design.
"I don't remember anybody suggesting that Apple stop selling iPhones or iPods or that they shut down the government if they didn't," Obama said. "That's not how we do things in America." (By Marina Koren)
UPDATE: 1:06 p.m.: Republicans Show Up to Conference Meeting They Knew Democrats Wouldn't Attend
Does House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., feel any personal embarrassment over the government shutdown?
Cantor isn't answering that question.
But the House's No. 2 Republican and a group of GOP colleagues, including Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., were made available on Tuesday, kind of, as they posed sitting around one side of a long table, jackets off.
It was as if these House Republicans were standing at the alter, ready to start a two-chamber conference to hammer out an agreement on a stop-gap budget plan. But sadly for this group of would-be negotiators, they were left waiting for a Senate Democrat negotiating team that would never come.
Of course, no one was really waiting for anyone. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his Democratic colleagues have already rejected such a conference. They insist a more simple solution to the standoff would be Cantor and his House Republican colleagues to pass a short-term spending bill without any anti-Obamacare language, which they've refused to do.
As a result, the expected photo opportunity: Cantor and his would-be conferees sitting on one side of a table, the other side empty. Along with Ryan, the included, among others, Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep Tom Graves, R-Ga., author of a legislation to delay or defund the president's health care plan.
The group did take a few questions. And Cantor at one point raised the news that veterans had entered the World War II Memorial site, despite barriers. "Because they should as Americans, as veterans, people who've served this country, have the ability to enjoy that site," he said.
But as reporters and photographers were suddenly ushered out of the room, Cantor remained tight-lipped to a question over whether he feels any personal embarrassment.
Ryan was asked during the same appearance Tuesday with Cantor about why House Republicans want to go to conference with Senate Democrats now on a short-term spending bill, when for months the House GOP has been refusing to go into a similar process over a year-long budget?
Ryan said he and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., have been talking. But the upshot, he said, is that it has been premature to do so, and that if we went prematurely, that would decrease the likelihood we'd get to a budget agreement." He said the discussions over a debt limit increase could provide a needed "forcing mechanism" to "bring the two parties together. (By Billy House)
UPDATE: 11:54 a.m.: Barricades Don't Stop Veterans From Seeing World War II Memorial
A group of World War II veterans from Mississippi knocked over the barricades at the WWII memorial on Tuesday morning, despite it being closed due to the government shutdown, Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane tweeted.
There were reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was on her way to the memorial. (By Matt Vasilogambros)
UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.: House Republicans Call on Twitter For a Clean CR
Two members of the House GOP have taken to Twitter to push for a resolution to the shutdown.
Of course, that's by no means the dominant position in the Republican party right now. We've got a ways to go yet. (By Matt Berman)
UPDATE: 11:38 a.m.: DCCC Targets Republicans Over Shutdown
The campaign arm of House Democrats is cranking up the pressure on vulnerable Republicans over the government shutdown, dispatching automatic calls to voters in 63 congressional districts Tuesday with messages that urge constituents to call their representatives and demand they "stop the nonsense."
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's paid grassroots campaign targets lawmakers in competitive districts and blames the shutdown on Republican lawmakers, while noting that they're "still getting paid." "He's just not listening to our frustration. All because of his demand to take away your benefits and protect insurance company profits," one sample robocall reads. The message will then allow voters to dial 1 to be connected to their congressman's office.
With the message, Democrats are trying to both make Republican lawmakers sweat and, perhaps, to incite the "moderate insurrection" against the hard-right faction in the House that never materialized Monday night ahead of the shutdown. It's an escalation from President Obama's request that voters call their members of Congress to pressure them to avoid a shutdown. (By Alex Seitz-Wald)
UPDATE: 11:34 a.m.: Snowe Slams Tea Party Republicans
Former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe said on Tuesday "there's no question" tea party members of the Republican Party are partly to blame for the government shutdown. "This is not the party I recognize," the moderate Republican said on CNN. Republican leadership needs to regain control of their caucus, she said. (By Dustin Volz)
UPDATE: 11:15 a.m.: The Wait and See Game
Republican strategists said Tuesday that House Republicans were still waiting for Democrats to initiate compromise.
"House Republicans will be gauging public reaction and waiting for their Democratic counterparts to begin negotiations," said GOP strategist Ron Bonjean. "They made a number of moves last night, so now it's likely going to be a wait and see game." (By Stacy Kaper)
UPDATE: 11:10 a.m.: Taliban?
If the shutdown has meant anything for Congress so far, it's super hyperbolic rhetoric. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., took to the House floor to compare tea party Republicans to the Taliban. In response, Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said that he doesn't "find that there are any American citizens who deserve that kind of rhetoric and name calling."
We assume that the name calling will just get more and more heated from here. (By Matt Berman)
UPDATE: 11:01 a.m.: Senate Republicans Search for the Next Move
The impact of the shutdown has begun to trickle down to Senate offices. For instance, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said that after noon his staff of about 30 would dwindle to just four – which means any constituent calls about the shutdown will likely go unanswered. "They'll get to hear my message," Chambliss said.
As the Senate voted down the latest proposal from the House, a number of Senate Republicans signaled they were giving the House Republican caucus breathing room to strategize on what their next move should be.
"They have to make that decision for themselves based on their internal politics," Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., told National Journal.
But Isakson, who was elected to Congress to replace Newt Gingrich after his resignation following the fallout from the 1995-1996 shutdown, also acknowledged where the standoff was eventually headed: "Right now, the way out is not clear except you've got a situation where you've got a very monolithic vote in the Democratic conference win the Senate, you've got a Democratic president and you've got a Republican House. Two-thirds of the power in this debate lies under rate control of the Democrats, which is going to ultimately going to decide what happens."
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who had received some conservative backlash last week after he criticized Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, from the Senate floor, likewise withheld advice for House Republicans. "The Speaker has a tough job, and I'll let him figure out how to get to 218 votes for something," Corker said. "I don't want to make it more complicated by saying things that could complicate that."
But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has been highly critical of the shutdown strategy to derail the health care law, predicted the shutdown wouldn't last "too much longer" and urged House Republicans to "accept the fact that we're not going to defund Obamacare."
"We had a presidential election that was based on that argument. We had other elections that were based on either keeping or repealing Obamacare," he said. But as for whether House Republicans were risking their majority, McCain said "Many of them come from safe districts and they ran saying they would fight to repeal Obamacare, so I respect their position." (By Elahe Izadi)
UPDATE 10:54 a.m.: House Republicans Will Hold Press Conference at Noon
House Republicans announced plans to hold a press conference with continuing resolution conferees at noon in the Speaker's conference room to discuss the state of play on the shutdown.
The group includes House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Reps. John Carter, R-Texas, Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., and Tom Graves, R-Ga. (By Stacy Kaper)
UPDATE: 10:20 a.m.: Senate Leadership Blame Each Other for Shutdown
In a sign that any compromise could still be quite distant, Senate party leadership traded barbs on the floor Tuesday morning, with each side pointing to the other as the cause of today's government shutdown.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came out swinging, blaming the shutdown on Democrats for refusing to sit down and compromise.
"They've now said they won't even agree to sit down and work out our differences," McConnell said on the floor. "They won't even talk about it. They literally just voted against working out a compromise."
He added, "So we know the Democrats who shut down the government will yell and point fingers. They've already started that routine."
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., immediately shot back: "My friend, the Republican leader, spoke as if George Orwell wrote his speech. This is 1984, where up is down, left is right, east is west," he said. "It was the House of Representatives that shut down the government."
Reid pointed out that Obamacare is going forward despite Republican opposition, and praised Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., for passing a budget and seeking to go to a conference with the House 18 times.
"Members of the House of Representative were unable to vote to keep the government running – only the Republicans," Reid added. (By Stacy Kaper and Dustin Volz)
UPDATE: 9:55 a.m.: Senate Rejects Motion to go to Conference
The Senate voted 54 to 46 to reject the House's request for conferees on its anti-Obamcare continuing resolution to fund the government Tuesday morning. The move kicks the ball back to the House, which had not announced how it plans to proceed nearly 10 hours after the government shutdown began. (By Stacy Kaper)