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Government shutdown ends/debt default avoided

On Wednesday, a deal was finally struck to end the government shutdown and avoid defaulting on our debt. The deal, brokered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), passed the Senate by a margin of 81-18. Tea Party conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), while voting against the bill, did not attempt to stop the Senate from considering it.

In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) disregarded the so-called Hastert rule - the rule that requires a majority of the GOP caucus support legislation before it comes to the floor - in order to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. In the end, the Senate-brokered deal passed 285 to 144, with 198 Democrats and 87 Republicans voting in favor of it.

Just after midnight on Thursday, President Obama signed the legislation officially ending this 16-day crisis.

Details of the deal

Government Funding: The deal extends funding for all federal agencies until January 15, 2014. The “top line” discretionary spending level of $986 billion extends the prorated spending level from fiscal year 2013 that includes automatic sequestration cuts.

Debt Ceiling: The deal suspends the Debt Limit until February 7, 2014. In addition, the deal permits the Treasury Department to use “extraordinary measures” after February 7, 2014 that delays the date of default by several months.

Budget Agreement: In March, the House and Senate passed differing budget blueprints. The proposal instructs both chambers to convene a bicameral conference to reconcile their issues by December 13, 2013.

Additionally the deal includes:

Healthcare Subsidies Income Verification: Requires all intending beneficiaries of any federal subsidies under the new healthcare law to verify their household income to ensure eligibility.

Back Pay for Federal Employees: The bill will provide retroactive back pay for all federal workers, both furloughed and essential staff, for the period in which the federal government was shutdown.

DC Provision: The bill also provides the District of Columbia, which relies on Congressional approval to approve its budget, the authority to manage its own affairs through the 2014-fiscal year.

The next budget crisis: 90 days away

The package to reopen the government runs only through mid-January, and lawmakers have pinned hopes to avert a repeat performance on a new bipartisan, bicameral conference committee. The last similar panel, the so-called Super Committee of 2011, deadlocked and adjourned in disagreement.

The new panel will be led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA).

This budget conference committee has until December 13, 2013 to reconcile differences between the House and Senate— differences that are significant to say the least. Funding for the government expires in mid-January.This deadline means our next budget crisis is likely just 90 days away.

Lawmakers are already busy defining down success for the budget conference committee. Almost no one is discussing the kind of “grand bargain”—a mixture of revenues sought by Democrats and entitlement cutbacks sought by Republicans—that has proved elusive between President Obama and congressional Republicans for almost three years.

House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that “raising taxes is not a viable option,” while Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ruled out any changes to Medicare and Social Security without fresh revenues.

White House turns attention to immigration

With the end of the current budget crisis - at least for a couple of months - the White House plans to turn its attention to pressuring Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

In particular, the White House will try to use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to attempt to force House Republicans to move comprehensive immigration reform similar to what passed in the Senate.

House leadership, however, has made it clear that the Senate immigration reform bill, which includes a path to citizenship, is not viable in the House given the substantial Republican opposition.

Former Rep. LaTourette on the budget crisis fallout

Former U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), who is president of McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies, penned an oped for Newsweek on the political fallout for the Republican Party in the wake of the current budget crisis. 
 
Click here to read this piece.

Political bits:

House

Massachusetts 5th Congressional District Special: State Senator Katherine Clark (D-MA) won the Democratic primary to succeed former Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), who was elected to the U.S. Senate.       

Senate

Alaska: Former Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan (R) announced his bid for U.S. Senate this week. Sullivan's announcement sets up a three-way Republican primary race between Tea Party favorite Joe Miller and Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell. The winner will face Senator Mark Begich (D-AK).

New Jersey Special: Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D-NJ) was elected to the Senate after defeating former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R-NJ) 55 percent to 44 percent. Booker becomes just the second African-American in the Senate.

North Carolina: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed physician Greg Bannon (R-NC) in his bid to win the GOP nod and the right to face Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) in 2014.

A look ahead:

House

Will be in recess

Senate            

Tuesday, October 22 – The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing, Housing Finance Reform: Essential Elements of a Government Guarantee for Mortgage-Backed Securities at 10:00 a.m. in 538 Dirksen.

Wednesday, October 23 –  The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Expanding Access to VA Health Care at 10:00 a.m. in 418 Russell.

Wednesday, October 23 – Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of John Owens to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit; Matthew Leitman to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan; Judith Levy to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan; Laurie Michelson to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan; Linda Parker to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan; and Peter Kadzik to be an assistant attorney general at 2:30 p.m. in 266 Dirksen.         

Washington by the numbers

38 - The percentage of Americans who want to see their member of Congress defeated.
29 - The percentage of Americans who want Obamacare repealed, down slightly from previous levels.                       

They said what?

“It all comes down to whether Howard will do it, and I need Howard.” -- former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, on a possible presidential bid with shock jock Howard Stern

Washington humor

"President Obama said the day after the budget deal is made he's going to concentrate on immigration. He says he'll start by deporting Ted Cruz." –Conan O'Brien

 

 

 Steven C. LaTourette, President | 202.559.2600

McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC
101 Constitution Avenue NW, Suite 600 East, Washington, D.C. 20001 

www.mcdonaldhopkinsgs.com

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Although McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC is owned by the law firm McDonald Hopkins LLC, McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies is not a law firm and does not provide legal services. Accordingly, the retention of McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies does not create a client-lawyer relationship and the protections of the client-lawyer relationship, such as attorney-client privilege and the ethics rules pertaining to conduct by lawyers, do not apply.

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