Government Shutdownpocalypse Live-Blog: Day 3

It’s day three of the government shutdown, and things are looking … worse, somehow. The debate has nearly moved on entirely from Obamacare (the original impetus of the standoff) and is beginning to focus on a “grand bargain”: a deal that would encompass entitlement reform, tax reform, government spending, Bo’s squeaky-toy budget, Paul Ryan’s widow’s peak budget — everything. But Democrats, on principle, don’t want to negotiate until the Republicans stop holding the government and economy hostage, while Republicans refuse to release their hostages without some kind of payoff. We’ll keep track of this constantly evolving clusterfuck all day, right here. 

11:51 p.m.: The real government shutdown hostages are astronauts Karen Nyberg and Mike Hopkins, who are stuck on the International Space Station. NASA is one of the agencies hit hardest by the shutdown, and as NPR notes, they seem kind of bored.

10:42 p.m.: President Obama has called off his entire Asia trip. Yesterday the White House scrapped appearances in Malaysia and the Philippines, and now it’s canceled his last two stops: the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia, and the ASEAN and East Asia Summits in Darussalam, Brunei. John Kerry will take the president’s place, though Joe Biden likes to take trips too, and if recent events are any indication, off-the-cuff remarks might be the key to world peace.

5:40 p.m.: For what it’s worth, President Obama is not going to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. Because he’s not allowed to do that, so. 

5:08 p.m.: The House wasted more time today passing niche spending bills that have no chance of ever becoming law — one which would restore funding to the administering of veterans’ benefits, and one which would restore funding to the National Guard and Reserve programs. Harry Reid won’t allow a vote on these bills in the Senate because undoing the most outrageous funding cuts would relieve pressure on the GOP to end the shutdown. 

4:56 a.m.: FEMA called some furloughed employees back to work as Tropical Storm Karen bears down on the Gulf Coast. This is your hourly reminder that the government does important things. 

4:48 p.m.: According to a Huffington Post tally, 21 House Republicans are now publicly in favor of funding the government, no strings attached. Many more are said to support such a move privately. 

4:43 p.m.: Newt Gingrich: Founding Fathers Liked Shutdowns.” Don’t read this. 

2:44 p.m.: Shots were fired outside the Capitol a short while ago. Details are still sketchy, and it’s not clear whether there’s any connection to the shutdown. Updates here.

2:03 p.m.: Jonathan Chait weighs in on Boehner’s private assurances that the debt ceiling will be raised no matter what: That would make Boehner’s debt ceiling hostage threat toothless. Boehner’s team is still trying to keep the threat going by insisting, “if we’re going to raise the debt limit, we need to deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits.” But it’s going to be a lot harder to scare anybody now.

1:37 p.m.: Here’s MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts and RNC chairman Reince Priebus talking over each other for a solid 16 seconds. The rest of the interview wasn’t much better.

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1:08 p.m.: The shutdown compelled the American Forces Network to cut staff, which means American troops overseas can’t even watch sports anymore. Coming any minute now: The GOP demands that Harry Reid give our brave men and women in uniform the respect they deserve and fund the American Forces Network. 

1:01 p.m.: And now for some good news: John Boehner has privately assured GOP moderates in the House that he won’t let Congress destroy the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, no matter what. This is important, but it’s not really a surprise. Boehner may be overly deferential to the tea partiers, he may be bad at his job, but he’s not crazy.

With a budget deal still elusive and a deadline approaching on raising the debt ceiling, Speaker John A. Boehner has told colleagues that he is determined to prevent a federal default and is willing to pass a measure through a combination of Republican and Democratic votes, according one House Republican. The lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of not being named, said Mr. Boehner indicated he would be willing to violate the so-called Hastert rule if necessary to pass a debt limit increase. The informal rule refers to a policy of not bringing to the floor any measure that does not have a majority of Republican votes. Other Republicans also said Thursday that they got the sense that Mr. Boehner, who held two meetings Wednesday with groups of House moderates, would do whatever was necessary to ensure that the country did not default on its debt.

12:22 p.m.: Government sarcasmdown, more like.


12:08 p.m.: George Clooney spoke to Daily Intelligencer about the shutdown. He has many thoughts, including: “I always panic when people like Ted Cruz take the floor and read Green Eggs and Ham. You know? Like somehow they’re Jimmy Stewart.”

11:58 a.m.: During a speech at a Maryland construction company this morning, President Obama went on an extended riff about yesterday’s infamous, overly candid Marlin Stutzman quote. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

11:49 a.m.: Congressman Marlin Stutman is calling a do-over on the really dumb thing he said yesterday.

11:35 a.m.: The monthly jobs report will not be released on Friday as scheduled, because, well, that’s something the government puts together.

11:33 a.m.: Caught on a hot mike last night: Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, talking public-messaging strategy. “I don’t think they poll tested ‘we won’t negotiate,’” Paul says, referring to the Democrats. “I think it’s awful for them to say that over and over again.”

11:19 a.m.: Jonathan Chait is not optimistic about a grand bargain: “If rescuing the world economy from catastrophe actually depends upon a Grand Bargain passing the House, the world is in more desperate straits than anybody imagined.”

10:34 a.m.: While Republicans hold out for some kind of nonspecific face-saving, ego-stroking concession, Mark Howell is dying.

The cancer has continued to grow and spread, and Howell’s body is not responding to chemotherapy. Doctors are recommending an aggressive procedure to attack the cancer. But that procedure is only available at the National Institute of Cancer, a facility now closed off to new patients as a result of the government shutdown.

10:25 a.m.: Anyone want to see something truly disgusting? Here’s Texas congressman Randy Neugebauer, a Republican who supports the shutdown, telling a park ranger, as news cameras roll, that she should be “ashamed” for keeping tourists out of the World War II memorial. As if it were her call. As if she was responsible for shutting down the government. Bravo for speaking truth to power, Randy Neugebauer. You’re a big man.

10:06 a.m.: “A non-government email listserv organized by Cruz’s staff, called ’We Win, They Lose,’ has been a hive of activity before and during the government shutdown.”

9:52 a.m.: Even Dennis Hastert doesn’t believe in the “Hastert Rule,” which states that the Speaker should only bring bills to the floor if they’re supported by a majority of the GOP. “This wasn’t a rule,” Hastert, the longest-serving GOP Speaker in American history, tells the Daily Beast. “I was speaking philosophically at the time.” As for the shutdown: 

I don’t want to overmanage John Boehner. I’m not in his shoes. But when we had things that were tough to do, I was constantly engaged—sitting at the table, bringing in conservatives, moderates. You can’t be in Congress and shut down government and get anything done. It’s an oxymoron.”

9:23 a.m.: Republican senators vented at Ted Cruz during a private meeting last night. Oh, to be a fly on that wall … would kind of suck, because you would be a fly. What do flies even do all day? It would have been nice to witness this, though:

9:20 a.m.: The first poll about the shutdown since the shutdown began is out, and it looks exactly like the polls from before the shutdown: “Fully 72 percent of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act,” according to a CBS poll — although, again, that’s not even really what this is about anymore — while 44 percent blame Republicans compared to 35 percent who blame Democrats and President Obama. 

Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it.

At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, Republican after Republican pressed Cruz to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse with Democrats, according to senators who attended the meeting. A defensive Cruz had no clear plan to force an end to the shutdown — or explain how he would defund Obamacare, as he has demanded all along, sources said.