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October 9, 2013

Government Shutdown Update

Last evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, introduced a debt limit bill that does not contain any policy riders as Republicans wanted. However, Democrats remain optimistic that they will still be able to garner 60 votes to beat a filibuster. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, said, “We haven’t started talking to Republicans, but I can’t believe that Republicans are willing to risk default, so I am optimistic that we’ll get more than 60. Not sure whether he is counting Dems yet. Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, indicated he might not support it. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) blasted Reid’s proposal for not including any spending reform. “What he proposes is to raise the debt limit by $1 trillion, but not do anything about the debt,” McConnell said. “Not a single reform to get spending under control. We’ve got a debt close to $17 trillion. “Washington is borrowing nearly $2 billion — a day. And he’s fine with that,” he added. Obama undercut Democrats Tuesday when he announced he would be willing to sign a short-term debt limit extension into law. Several Senate Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss said they may support a clean short-term debt-limit extension to give leaders more time to negotiate.

Even though some were optimistic about the House GOP proposal for a bicameral working group on fiscal issues, and that it could win Democratic support, and be a way out of the CR stalemate, it does not appear to be going over very well. President Obama said that the working group would allow for a discussion of spending and entitlement cuts, but not discussion of eliminating corporate loopholes and other Democratic priorities. Others in Congress stated that the 2011 working group accomplished nothing.

Boehner defended the working group approach and stated that it would allow for negotiations with no limits. “All we’re asking for is to sit down and have a conversation,” Boehner told reporters at a news conference. “There’s no boundaries here, there’s nothing on the table, there’s nothing off the table.”

Yesterday, the House continued to pass mini CRs including reinstating Head Start funding. The Republicans are preparing a similar bill for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of the bills would run through to December 15 and are funded at FY 2013 levels. The Senate will oppose any mini CRs.