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The once unthinkable - a government shutdown - occurs

A few weeks ago it seemed unlikely that the battle over the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government would actually end up in a government shutdown. On Monday at midnight, however, the once unthinkable became a reality.

The House and Senate failed to reach an agreement on a CR, which led to the shutdown. Republicans in both chambers, led by Tea Party conservatives, demanded that a continuing resolution not contain funds for the President's Affordable Care Act. Democrats in both chambers, and the White House, steadfastly refuse such an approach and have said they will accept nothing but a "clean" CR.

How long will the shutdown last?

The shutdown that began on Monday night at midnight has now stretched to the end of the week, and the question on the minds of many observers is just how long this will last?

While 19 Republicans have come forward to say they would support a clean CR, which makes it clear a clean CR would pass on the House floor if it were put forward, there is absolutely no indication that such a move is likely any time - if ever.

While Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was certainly no fan of the "defund Obamacare" approach, he nonetheless is now committed to this path. Allowing a clean CR on the floor would be a total surrender by Boehner and could threaten his speakership. For there to be some resolution, Boehner and House Republicans will need some sort of concession from Democrats and the White House that will allow Republicans to save face. What such a concession could be, particularly one that would be acceptable to the White House, remains to be seen. In the meantime, the shutdown continues.

The debt ceiling: The next big battle

Even as there is no end in sight to the government shutdown, many are already turning their attention to the next big partisan battle: the debt ceiling.

While the government shutdown has certainly caused pain - especially to hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers - the prospects of America defaulting on its debt, which could occur if no deal is reached on raising the debt ceiling - could be crippling to the American economy.

Late this week, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) told his caucus he would not allow the U.S. to default on its obligations. This is a strong indication that Boehner would be willing to waive the so-called "Hastert rule," which requires a majority of Republicans to support legislation before it moves to the floor, to prevent defaulting on the debt.

Affordable Care Act rolls out

The President's signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as Obamacare) rolled out this week - against the backdrop of a government shutdown caused by a fight over funding this very legislation.

The centerpiece of Obamacare is the healthcare exchanges that will allow uninsured Americans access to health insurance. The rollout of these exchanges was certainly not without challenges - particularly for those who attempted to sign up over the internet for coverage.

Bipartisan energy efficiency legislation stalled

Bipartisan energy efficiency legislation, which once looked likely to sail through the Senate, has stalled. This week, supporters of the measure - led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) - met to determine a strategy to get the legislation moving again.

The bill has become another proxy for battles over issues wholly unrelated to energy efficiency. As a result, the Senate has been unable to come to an agreement on the number of amendments that would be allowed, leaving the bill in legislative limbo.

Senate Republican leadership staff indicated that despite the bipartisan efforts of its supporters, this legislation was unlikely to move any time soon.

Political bits:

House

Michigan 11th Congressional District: Republican Businessman Dave Trott, challenging Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) in the GOP primary, announced that he had raised $425,000 in his first quarter as a candidate.

North Carolina 3rd Congressional District: Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a long-time disciple of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), is being challenged for the GOP nomination by businessman Taylor Griffin (R-NC).

Senate

Montana: Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D-MT) told supporters that he plans to run for Senate. The decision by Walsh is a coup for Democrats who have been looking for a high profile candidate.

A look ahead:

House

Wednesday, October 9 -- The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on The Effects of the Health Law's Definitions of Full-Time Employee on Small Businesses at 1:00 p.m. in 2360 Rayburn.

Wednesday, October 9 -- The House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Keeping College Within Reach: Simplifying Federal Student Aid at 10:00 a.m. in 2175 Rayburn.

Senate            

Tuesday, October 8 -- The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on The Impact of Sequestration on the National Defense at 9:30 a.m. in G-50 Dirksen.

Thursday, October 10 -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of James Brewster Jr. to be ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Brian Nichols to be ambassador to Peru, and Carlos Moreno to be ambassador to Belize at 2:30 p.m. in 419 Dirksen.

The Senate Banking Committee was scheduled to consider new House-passed sanctions in September, but likely will hold off on reviewing them until after meetings in Geneva between Iranian and Western negotiators on October 15 and 16.            

 

Washington by the numbers

72 - The percentage of Americans who think the government shouldn’t be shut down to fight Obamacare.               

Washington humor

Now your medical records can only be seen by you, your doctor, and President Obama - The Onion.

 

 Steven C. LaTourette, President | 202.559.2600

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC
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www.mcdonaldhopkinsgs.com

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