POLITICS
10/01/2013 06:00 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

HUFFPOST HILL, sponsored by America's Essential Hospitals - Unlike Our Sponsor, You're Not Essential

Uncle Sam stayed home today, shuffling around the house in his red, white and blue PJ pants, seeing if his pet eagle likes cheese puffs and incessantly bugging Aunt Samantha over Gchat. The shutdown is causing people to cancel weddings held on federal property -- apparently the GOP isn't that intent on strengthening marriage. And Obamacare's healthcare exchanges launched today, however Healthcare.gov doesn't say how to locate your local soviet or where to hand over your guns. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, October 1st, 2013:

OBAMACARE EXCHANGES GREETED AS LIBERATORS - Jeff Young: "President Barack Obama said the launch of Obamacare's health insurance exchanges would be rocky. He was right. During the first few hours of a six-month enrollment period for health coverage via the online marketplaces, both state-run health insurance exchanges and HealthCare.gov, which is the portal for residents of more than 30 states, were plagued by crashes, long load times and error messages. The exchanges, also called marketplaces, are intended for people who don't get health benefits at work or are uninsured. By noon -- about four hours after the official launch time and about 12 hours after HealthCare.gov appeared to go live -- visitors to the website were greeted by messages such as 'Health Insurance Marketplaces: Please Wait.' They were unable to create an account to begin comparing health insurance plans on price and benefits or to learn whether they qualify for financial assistance. At times, the registration process began but halted. The wait time was more than 22 minutes when The Huffington Post called the federal call center. In spite of the problems, small strides toward enrollment into health coverage began anyway…" [HuffPost]

GOP SPLIT ON WHETHER TO PAY FURLOUGHED EMPLOYEES - Dave Jamieson and Sabrina Siddiqui: "If and when the federal government reopens for business, congressional lawmakers will have to decide whether or not to retroactively pay federal workers for the time they were out of work. So far, Republicans appear split on the question of back pay for furloughed civil servants -- even though members of Congress are guaranteed to get paid regardless. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she would support such a measure. 'They're being furloughed for no fault of their own, and this is very poor policy,' she said. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) agreed. 'Oh, of course,' he said when asked by HuffPost if he would support back pay legislation. 'Why penalize these good people for our malfeasance?' The Arizona Republican even predicted that it wouldn't be too difficult to get a bill retroactively paying federal workers through Congress. But some of McCain's colleagues weren't so sure federal workers should be made whole for their lost time. 'I think it's way too early to even consider that, but again we're $7 trillion more in the hole now than we were [in 1995-1996],' said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)... Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also raised the issue of the national debt, signaling what might prevent many Republicans from getting on board...Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) also said it was too early for them to make a determination, while Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he 'probably' would support the move." [HuffPost]

@RepThomasMassie: I like the idea of passing individual CRs bc so far strategy has been like showing up at a strip poker game wearing nothing but your socks

A handful of GOP lawmakers support passing a clean continuing resolution.. HuffPost currently has ten Republican house members who would publicly break with their leadership. Seventeen would be needed. [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]

RIP previous farm bill.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK: PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST EDITION - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who isn't leaving his lead-lined panic room because the CIA agents tasked with monitoring the radio chip his brain are essential personal, thinks everyone in Congress is winning the day. "For the first time in a long time both parties got exactly what they wanted," PSLGOPL writes. "Dems wanted to shut down so they could blame Republicans for being mean-spirited. GOP wanted to shut down because they think the government is bloated. This is a better example of bipartisanship than any I can think of in the last ten years." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

@igorbobic: Unskewed polls dude has hard proof that Barack Obama is "actually" gay: bit.ly/1hj6yzE

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The federal government shutdown already has led at least one state to shutter a nutritional food program for struggling women and infants on Tuesday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Saturday that a shutdown would hobble the $7 billion Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. The program, known as WIC, provides healthy-food vouchers, nutrition education and breastfeeding support to roughly 9 million poor women and their children. States administer the program and each will handle the federal shutdown differently. On Tuesday morning, Utah's Department of Health announced its WIC program would be closing its doors to new clients. "The decision is, basically what little money we've got to carry forward we should spend that on getting as much food to people as possible rather than continuing to take new clients and continuing to issue new vouchers," department spokesman Tom Hudachko told HuffPost. [w/ Laura Bassett]

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JOHN BOEHNER LOVES HIM SOME HANDOUTS - You'd think these health insurances subsidies were a carton of Marlboros and a dart board. Politico: "With the federal government nearing shutdown, House Speaker John Boehner stood on the House floor Monday and called on his colleagues to vote for a bill banning a 'so-called exemption' that lawmakers and staffers receive for their health insurance... Yet behind-the-scenes, Boehner and his aides worked for months with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and others, to save these very same, long-standing subsidies, according to documents and e-mails provided to POLITICO. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was also aware of these discussions, the documents show. During a five-month period stretching from February to July, Boehner and his aides sought along with Reid’s office to solve what had become a big headache for both of them. They drafted and reviewed a possible legislative fix, as well as continued to push for an administrative one from the Office of Personnel Management...But according to several sources in attendance at a mid-July meeting with Reid, Boehner wondered aloud at one point whether he and the Nevada Democrat could quietly slip some language into a bill to end the problem without it receiving any public attention." [Politico]

Earlier, from Roll Call: "Senate Democrats are considering leaking a series of emails between the chiefs of staff of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker John A. Boehner regarding employer contributions to congressional staff health care plans, multiple top-level sources said late Monday. Senate Democratic chiefs of staff discussed the emails between Reid chief David Krone and Boehner chief Mike Sommers at a recent meeting, according to a source with direct knowledge of the meeting." [Roll Call]

"So now they want to talk? "With the government shut down, House Republicans are suddenly pursuing a formal House-Senate conference -- something the GOP leadership has shunned all summer on the 2014 budget resolution and new farm bill. It echoes of a last-minute ploy by Speaker John Boehner in the fight over payroll taxes in 2011." [Politico's David Rogers]

PARKS AND WRECK - Kate Sheppard: "Local economies in the communities that border national parks are expected to lose as much as $30 million a day as a result of the government shutdown, according to an analysis from the National Parks Conservation Association, the nonprofit advocacy group that supports the park system. The closures are clearly bad for anyone who works in the parks or who may have planned a family vacation to one of the 401 national parks across the country. But in towns near park entrances, the shutdown also affects businesses, including grocery stores, camping supply stores, equipment rental services, restaurants and hotels that rely on tourist traffic to the parks. 'It means jobs and it means less income for working families here in Maine,' said Christopher Fogg, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce." [HuffPost]

Don't worry, America. As Fox News says, this is simply a government "slimdown." WSJ: "At the National Institutes of Health, nearly three-quarters of the staff was furloughed. One result: director Francis Collins said about 200 patients who otherwise would be admitted to the NIH Clinical Center into clinical trials each week will be turned away. This includes about 30 children, most of them cancer patients, he said." [WSJ]

Here's a roundup of newspapers' shutdown front pages. Daily News definitely wins with "HOUSE OF TURDS."

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PAUL RYAN EYES DEBT LIMIT AS SHUTDOWN SOLUTION - Jen Bendery: "Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that the best way for Congress to resolve the standoff over the government shutdown is to tie the matter to the looming fight over raising the debt ceiling...'We have a debt limit coming,' he told reporters. 'Most budget agreements in the past have always involved debt limit increases. We think that's the forcing mechanism, just like the Budget Control Act that President Obama signed before.' Ryan was referring to the debt deal that Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed in 2011, which included, among other things, raising the debt ceiling and lining up sequestration cuts. Beyond that, Ryan pointed to the Bowles-Simpson deal, the 1997 budget agreement and the 1990 budget agreement as examples of other deals that came together in the context of raising the debt ceiling." [HuffPost]

Looking to get drunk? The Washington City *Shutdown* Paper has a flowchart to help you decide where to imbibe your non-essential feelings.

SHUTDOWN A BONANZA FOR DNC FUNDRAISING - If the GOP finds a way to work in an offensive comment about rape, the DNC will be solvent for the next five decades. The Hill: "The Democratic National Committee on Monday enjoyed its biggest fundraising day since the 2012 election, capitalizing on the looming government shutdown and launch of ObamaCare's healthcare exchanges. The DNC raised slightly less than $850,000 from 30,000 donors in the 24-hour period leading into the shutdown, a DNC official tells The Hill. 'With Republicans shutting down the government and ObamaCare going live, Democratic grassroots supporters are engaged, energized and ready to fight for the causes they're committed to,' the official says. The big haul is the latest sign political campaigns are cashing in on a contentious few weeks in Washington. The third quarter of fundraising ended on Monday." [The Hill]

On that note, Democrats have opened up a lead in generic 2014 polling: "Looking at the 2014 Congressional races, voters pick a generic Democrat over a generic Republican candidate 43 - 34 percent, the widest Democratic margin measured so far...Voters approve 48 - 40 percent of the way Obama is handling Iran, but disapprove 53 - 41 percent of his handling foreign policy overall, similar to his all-time worst disapproval of 52 - 40 percent July 11. Voters disapprove 51 - 41 percent of his handling of Syria." [Quinnipiac]

A collection of the saddest "We're closed" messages from government websites and social media accounts.

OBAMA TO FEDERAL WORKERS: SORRY, DUDES - Amanda Terkel: "President Barack Obama sent a letter to federal employees on Tuesday, apologizing that they have been treated like a 'punching bag' in the current political climate and promising to make sure they receive back pay once the shutdown is over. Thanking them for the 'vitally important' work they do every day, Obama said, 'You do all this in a political climate that, too often in recent years, has treated you like a punching bag. You have endured three years of a Federal pay freeze, harmful sequester cuts, and now, a shutdown of our Government. And yet, you persevere, continuing to serve the American people with passion, professionalism, and skill.' 'None of this is fair to you. And should it continue, it will make it more difficult to keep attracting the kind of driven, patriotic, idealistic Americans to public service that our citizens deserve and that our system of self-government demands,' he added." [HuffPost]

WORLD WAR TWO VETS STORM THING, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY DO - ABC News: "A group of 92 Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight Veterans refused to let a government shutdown stop them from entering the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., this morning. Though the memorial was technically closed due to the government shutdown that went into effect early this morning, they managed to enter the memorial and tour the site. Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said in interviews that the gates were opened for the veterans to access the memorial. The vets were taking part in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight that was originally established in 2011 to help fly the state's WWII veterans to Washington D.C., free of charge, and provide tours so that they may see the memorials dedicated to honor their service. Unfortunately, other veterans are not going to be as lucky as today's group. The WWII Memorial will be re-closed this afternoon and remain closed until funding is restored. National Mall and Memorial Parks Communications Officer Carol Johnson told ABC News the memorial will be shut down and cleared by Park Police." [ABC News]

ESSENTIAL STAFFERS ROUGHING IT - Hannah Hess: "Staffers, interns, maintenance employees and lobbyists felt the first effects of Congress’ lapse in appropriations Tuesday morning, as they waited in long lines for security screenings to enter House office buildings. By 9 a.m., the line to enter the Cannon Building stretched down New Jersey Avenue Southeast, around the corner and up C Street Northeast. Hands holding smartphones popped up above the line occasionally, as those waiting attempted to share photos of the scene. Shutdown procedures for entering House office buildings were announced by the House Administration Committee. According to its guidance, 'Only one door to each House Office Building will be open. Members and staff will be directed to the front of all lines.'" [Roll Call]

SHUTDOWN GIVES TOURISTS A SAD - If this thing drags on for a week some enterprising reporter will track down a shuttered clinic that hands out lollipops to children after vaccinations just for the "GOVERNMENT TAKES CANDY FROM BABY" headline. Amanda Terkel: "The National Zoo usually gets up and running around 10 a.m., as visitors roll in to see the elephants, cheetahs and, of course, the beloved pandas. On Tuesday, however, the gates never opened and visitors instead saw a sign that read: 'All Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed today due to the government shutdown.' 'Stupid government!' said Ajay Amasiu, when informed that the zoo was closed. He was wearing a panda T-shirt and specifically wanted to see the furry animals before heading home to Virginia. Jessica McClanahan, 31, who was with Amasiu, said they had seen the news about the shutdown on Monday night, but hadn't realized it would close the zoo." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a thieving kitten.

LOVE ALSO SHUT DOWN - USA Today: "The National Mall and Memorial Parks have issued 24 permits for October weddings at the Lincoln Memorial, George Mason Memorial and the D.C. War Memorial, spokeswoman Carol Johnson says. An e-mail was sent out Monday telling prospective brides and grooms, who often apply for the permits up to a year in advance, that if the government shuts down, all events are canceled, she said. 'Those memorials will be closed,' Johnson said. 'I think people will be quite upset. Unfortunately, it's beyond our control.'...If California's Yosemite National Park closes, weddings scheduled at the two hotels inside the park, the Ahwahnee and the Wawona, will move to the Tenaya Lodge, a hotel and resort a few miles from the park's southern gate, says Lisa Cesaro, spokeswoman for DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, which runs all three hotels." [USA Today]

COMFORT FOOD

- People are putting small dogs in their cars' cupholders. This is a thing. Now you know. [http://bit.ly/1eX8Es2]

- How gas nozzles know how to shut off when your gas tank is full. [http://bit.ly/15HZ6cb]

- Bill Nye did The Robot on the latest edition of "Dancing With The Stars." [http://bit.ly/1fFY4XC]

- The launch video for the new GoPro camera features a lot of first-person excitement, also idiots. [http://bit.ly/17mc96L]

- Jay Leno rode the latest edition of the Batmobile around Los Angeles. We prefer the ecoboost model. [http://bit.ly/19cDzyt]

- This howler monkey will beat you at a burping contest, hands down. [http://bit.ly/1eXzPmH]

- There are Swiss Army Knives, and then there are ones with a tiny .22 caliber five-shot pinfire revolver attached. [http://bit.ly/1aIElAo]

TWITTERAMA

@swin24: i wonder what the "this #shutdown isn't a big deal b/c i don't feel any of it" crowd really feels about mass murder in foreign countries

@HuffPostMedia: We're sorry for that GOP diversity crack, that was unfair — their ties are different colors.

@christophr: HAS ANYONE JUST TRIED TURNING THE GOVERNMENT OFF THEN BACK ON AGAIN?

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