POLITICS
10/01/2013 07:43 pm ET Updated Oct 02, 2013

Government Shutdown: Congress Has No Clue How To End It

WASHINGTON -- If you weren't worried about how this government shutdown will get worked out, here's something that should help raise the anxiety: lawmakers have no idea what the endgame will be.

Some, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have some thoughts about the final resolution, but not how to get there.

"It's unfolding exactly as I told you it would three weeks ago, and it'll end by us not defunding Obamacare," McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill after his caucus met Tuesday. "Hopefully we can find something that would give some small satisfaction to our friends in the House that they could agree to."

But asked what that was, McCain admitted: "I don't know. But pressure is becoming very intense from people who are very dissatisfied with a government shutdown."

The House GOP conference decided Tuesday that it would try to force things by pushing three "suspension bills" -- which require two-thirds majorities to pass -- that would fund select parts of the government. Senate Democrats didn't wait around to see if they succeeded, adjourning after declaring the measures would not pass in the upper chamber.

"I think the House Republicans are looking for a way out of this because of the reaction of the American people, but they're also trying to preserve their position, and it's a very difficult situation for them," McCain said.

The possible length of the shutdown was opaque to lawmakers.

"There'll have to be a way through, but I don't think it will come for a while," said Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.).

Asked how the House should proceed to break the deadlock, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said simply, "I don't know. I can't speak for them."

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who was a House member last year, said he spent some time on the House floor Monday, but hadn't had much communication with his colleagues there since.

"I haven't gotten any sense today of where they are," Flake said. Asked if he felt the shutdown would be resolved in a big package over the debt ceiling, the Arizona Republican said, "I hope not. I hope we can resolve this by then."

Some House leaders, among them Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would like to link the whole funding question to the debt ceiling, which the country is forecast to reach on Oct. 17.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters she was "disappointed" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refused the House GOP's bid to create a conference committee to work out the short-term spending bill that targets Obamacare. She said at this point the matter might only be resolved by force from the White House.

"I think the president needs to bring people together on both sides of the aisle in both parties and not let them out of the room until there's an agreement," Collins said.

While the House pushed ahead with suspension bills that would help veterans, the District of Columbia and national parks, even some House members didn't think it would work, including Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who favors simply passing a funding bill that has no riders attacking Obamacare.

The suspension bill bid "takes a little pressure off, but it really doesn't solve our problem," Dent said. "I'm not sure that gets us any closer to a resolution."

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), another Republican who has broken with his leadership to call for a clean spending bill, said the problem with figuring out an end game is that the tea party members who have pushed the bid to link Obamacare to government funding don't actually have a plan.

Nunes called them lemmings after their penchant for following the commands of tea party Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

"So now we're letting these guys, this lemming crew, play out their hand," Nunes told reporters. "Now they're kind of playing with no cards in their hand, but they don't know that yet."

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17/10/2013 05:30 BST

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From the White House:

On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2775, the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014," which provides fiscal year 2014 appropriations for projects and activities of the Federal Government through Wednesday, January 15, 2014. The effective time for the continuing resolution begins on October 1, 2013. H.R. 2775 also extends the Nation's debt limit through February 7, 2014.

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17/10/2013 04:58 BST

White House Receives Budget Legislation

17/10/2013 04:13 BST

Frank Lautenberg's Widow Reaps $174,000 In Senate Budget Bill

Hours before Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) won a New Jersey special senatorial election to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), U.S. senators paid tribute to Lautenberg in their own way.

Rushed to approve a 35-page deal to fund the government and avert a debt default, senators allowed a few unrelated provisions to slip through.

One was section 146, guaranteeing $174,000 -- the equivalent of one year's salary -- to Lautenberg's widow, Bonnie Englebart Lautenberg.

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17/10/2013 03:59 BST

Federal Employees Back To Work Thursday

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell released the following statement Wednesday evening:

"Now that the bill has passed the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning. Employees should be checking the news and OPM's website for further updates."

17/10/2013 03:36 BST

Stenographer Removed For Shouting On House Floor

A shouting stenographer was removed from the House floor as lawmakers voted on a deal to reopen the government and avoid a debt crisis.

The stenographer began shouting as the the House approved the number of votes needed to pass the bill. According to reporters, she was yelling about God and Freemasons:

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17/10/2013 03:27 BST

House Vote: 285-144

The House voted 285-144 to reopen the federal government and raise the debt limit.

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17/10/2013 03:18 BST

Republicans Score Amazing Own Goal

HuffPost's Arthur Delaney and Dave Jamieson report:

After voting this year to keep federal employees' pay frozen, Republicans in Congress have accidentally given many government workers their first raise in three years.


It's one of several unintended consequences of the Republican gambit to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government. It isn't a nominal raise, and it won't improve most workers' lives one bit. In fact, so far it's brought mostly misery and anxiety. But here's how it's a one-time raise.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been off the job for two weeks due to the government shutdown. As part of the deal hatched Wednesday to reopen the government, Congress included a measure to pay those workers retroactively for the time they missed, as a matter of fairness, just as it has in the budget impasses of yesteryear. The rationale: federal workers shouldn't have to pay the price for Congress's failures.

But in a symbol of just how wasteful a government shutdown is, lawmakers -- many of whom complain that the federal workforce is bloated, and who haven't granted workers a single cost-of-living adjustment since 2010 -- have forced federal employees to perform two fewer weeks of work for the same salary, all due to congressional squabbling. That's a full pay period, amounting to 3.8 percent of annual wages.

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17/10/2013 03:14 BST

House Passes Budget Deal

The House has voted to end the latest damaging battle of divided government in a polarized Congress.

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17/10/2013 03:13 BST

House Has The Votes

17/10/2013 03:05 BST

Mitch McConnell Wins The Praises Of... Democratic Leaders

HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery reports:

There was a lot of back-patting among Democratic leaders Wednesday after the Senate passed its bill to end the government shutdown and avert a debt default. But some of their most effusive praise was for the leader of the other party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at the eleventh hour to avoid catastrophe.

"The Republican leader's cooperation was essential to reach an accord," Reid told reporters, noting his sometimes rocky relationship with the GOP leader. "I've worked with McConnell for many years. The last bit has not been ... [long pause] good."

McConnell "stepped up to be [Reid's] partner when it really counted," said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).

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