By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ABC's RICK KLEIN: There wasn't much to be optimistic about in listening to House Speaker John Boehner make his case on "This Week" Sunday. His stark insistence that "clean" votes to reopen the government or lift the debt ceiling would fail is arguable at best, but the fact that Boehner is maintaining the argument is all that matters so long as he's speaker. Squint a bit, though, and you can see the contours of a path out. Boehner is working to maintain GOP unity with his hard lines, and his interview probably did him good on that front. That unity only matters, though, if he gets President Obama to the negotiating table. Boehner is still looking for an out, but he's going to need the president to help provide it. So far, the president sees no incentive to give.
ABC's JEFF ZELENY: As the federal shutdown enters its second week, the challenges are mounting for Speaker John Boehner. One of the first orders of business when House members return to Washington later today is offering reassurance that there's not only a light at the end of the tunnel, but also a plan. The speaker's defiant tone on Sunday in his interview with George may have been music to the ears of hard-line Republicans, but another important gauge of sentiment is what lawmakers heard in their districts this weekend. Furloughed workers are getting paid, but not business owners, contractors or many others. One GOP lawmaker put it to me like this: "We lost on Obamacare, so it's getting harder and harder to explain what this shutdown is even about anymore."
ABC's DEVIN DWYER: President Obama starts the week where he left off the last - holding firm to his position of no negotiations with House Republicans unless and until the government is re-opened and debt limit raised. As our Jonathan Karl reported on "Good Morning America" today, White House advisers have also not shifted their strategy one iota, believing they can hold out until Republicans surrender. The administration's view continues to be that they are asking for nothing except for Congress to do its job. President Obama has no public appearances today at this point.
THE SHUTDOWN'S BEST (OR WORST) POLITICAL STUNTS. Members of Congress are not exactly known to shy away from a chance to steal the spotlight. So when the government shut down on Tuesday, it launched a frenetic quest to win the messaging war about who was to blame. Here are some of the best, or worst, political stunts that the government shutdown has spawned, courtesy of ABC's ABBY PHILLIP: http://abcn.ws/1a9Isoh
SCHUMER ACCUSES BOEHNER OF 'PLAYING WITH FIRE.' Responding to House Speaker John Boehner's appearance on "This Week," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., challenged Boehner to test his claim that the votes aren't there to reopen the government. "Let me issue him a friendly challenge: put it on the floor Monday or Tuesday," Schumer told ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS. "Speaker Boehner, just vote." He also rejected Boehner's request for negotiations until or unless House leaders agree to end the shutdown and raise the debt limit. "This is playing with fire. And we are happy to negotiate, but we want to negotiate without a gun to our head," Schumer said. http://abcn.ws/19rVocU
HAPPENING TODAY: The Senate will convene at 2:00pm today. But, as ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes, it's still unclear when we will see the vote on back pay for furloughed federal workers. President Obama has said he would sign such legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn't indicated when he would hold a vote on it.
SHUTDOWN'S FIRST WEEKEND: ALL WORK AND NO PROGRESS. Officially, it was a working weekend for Congress, but one of the busiest places in Washington on Saturday happened to be the outdoor plaza on the east side of the Capitol where aides waited to whisk lawmakers away moments after the House of Representatives cast its only vote of the day. Many House members headed for the airport to catch flights home - and some senators didn't even bother to stick around - leaving progress on breaking the budget impasse, which has ground the gears of government to a halt, at a standstill, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ notes. The Saturday session, a rarity on Capitol Hill, seemed to be more about optics than anything else with a handful of Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle holding dueling press conferences and giving lengthy speeches on the floors of both chambers. "We continue to wait for the president to join us in these discussions to work out these differences," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told reporters, touting the fact that the House has "now passed 12 bills that fund critical parts of the federal government." On the other end of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reiterated that as far as he and other Democratic leaders are concerned, those bills are going nowhere. "Funding the government bit by bit, that is not the answer. Let them go to work," Reid said. "No matter how many bites the Republicans take at the apple, there is only one bill that makes sure everything is met - the Senate bill to reopen the government." http://abcn.ws/16qh078
-CHECK OUT THIS JEFF ZELENY PHOTO OF THE CAPITOL 'PARKING LOT': http://abcn.ws/GI7OR6
-AS THE BICKERING, POSTURING AND PREENING AT THE CAPITOL CONTINUED, the House of Representatives did manage to get at least one thing done this wekeend: Members voted unanimously, 407-0, to pass a bill to ensure the 800,000-plus furloughed federal workers receive back pay once the government reopens. If the Senate decides to take up the bill, the White House signaled Friday that President Obama would sign it. While expressing his support for the retroactive pay measure, Reid chastised House Republicans for passing it without voting on a clean funding measure to re-open the government. "It's really cruel to tell workers they'll receive back pay once the government opens and then refuse to open the government," Reid said on the Senate floor. And he noted that Congress would essentially be giving hundreds of thousands of federal workers a "paid vacation," telling them to "watch TV. Play chess. Whatever you want to do because we won't let you work." http://abcn.ws/16qh078
JUSTICE GINSBURG: 'AS LONG AS I CAN DO THE JOB FULL STEAM, I WILL'. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wanted to make one thing crystal-clear over the summer: She has no immediate plans to step down. She is taking her spot on the bench to begin the new term today, ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE reports. She spent the summer traveling, giving speeches and reiterating in several print interviews that she expects to stay on the Supreme Court. For now. "My answer is, as long as I can do the job full steam, I will," Ginsburg told the AP's Mark Sherman. She celebrated her 80th birthday last March and has spent 20 years on the Supreme Court bench. So what keeps her going? "This fantastic job," Ginsburg told NPR's Michel Martin at a Georgetown Law event celebrating women's rights a few weeks ago. "My only weapon is the power to persuade, so I work terribly hard on my opinions," Ginsburg said. Some legal experts believe she is just entering her prime. "It seems in the last two years you are on fire," Jeffrey Rosen, the President of the National Constitutional Center, told the Justice in early September. http://abcn.ws/1gj0QQt
-BEHIND THE SCENES: Justice Ginsburg is perhaps best known for her 1996 landmark majority opinion striking down the all-male admissions policy at the state-funded Virginia Military Institute. She has, in the past, been on the other side, dissenting with force in cases regarding such issues as pay discrimination and abortion restrictions. But in the last few years she has taken on a new role on the Court. In 2010 Justice John Paul Stevens retired at 91 years old. Ginsburg became the senior member of the Court's four member liberal wing. In those controversial cases when the Court splits 5-4 on ideological lines, she gets to choose who will write the dissent.
SHUTDOWN OR NO, HOT-BUTTON ISSUES AWAIT SUPREME COURT. The Supreme Court will take the bench today to begin a term that touches on a broad variety of hot-button issues such as campaign finance, affirmative action, religion, presidential power and abortion restrictions, ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE writes. One theme to watch: the unusually high number of cases in which the court is being asked to reconsider prior precedent. "How the court treats pre-existing precedent; that is really going to be the theme of the term in many ways," says Kannon Shanmugam, a lawyer at Williams and Connolly who frequently argues before the court. "This is the year of the sequel." From campaign finance, to abortion rights, to the limits of presidential powers, here's a look at the key issues the Supreme Court will tackle this term: http://abcn.ws/15KLEtg
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN HAS DOMINO EFFECT ON DEFENSE INDUSTRY. While the government shutdown has had adverse impacts on federal employees and government services, its negative effects are also trickling down to one key part of the private sector: the defense industry. Defense mega contractor Lockheed Martin said at least 3,000 employees will be furloughed starting Monday if the government shutdown continues, according to ABC's ALEX LAZAR. "I'm disappointed that we must take these actions and we continue to encourage our lawmakers to come together to pass a funding bill that will end this shutdown," Marillyn A. Hewson, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. She encouraged employees to use part of their vacation time while they're being furloughed so they can still get paid. United Technologies Corporation, a Connecticut-based company, said 5,000 workers could be furloughed if the shutdown continues beyond October. The company said about 2,000 workers would be furloughed on Monday, specifically those who produce the Black Hawk helicopter. The defense industry, which relies heavily on U.S. government contracts, is passing along the impact of the shutdown to its employees across the country. http://abcn.ws/16pSXVU
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
BOBBY JINDAL: 'WE'RE ALL FRUSTRATED WITH WHAT'S GOING ON IN D.C.' Louisiana governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential contender Bobby Jindal says he's "frustrated" with the lack of leadership in Washington but declined to directly criticize his own party for fueling the current government shutdown. "I'm not interested in Republican fratricide," Jindal told "Politics Confidential's" JONATHAN KARL and RICK KLEIN when asked if he approved of the Republican Party's tactics in refusing to reopen the government unless the president's health care law is changed or repealed. "You've got Republicans criticizing each other, fighting each other. I'm not interested in getting into micromanaging their tactics." But Jindal did bemoan a general lack of leadership from Congress. v"Like every other American, we're all frustrated with what's going on in D.C.," he said. "You've got a House that's only passed five appropriations bills, a Senate that hasn't passed any. You've got a Senate that does one budget bill approximately every five years. That's not leadership." http://yhoo.it/1fUscyK
@EvanMcSan: what's plan B if debt ceiling isn't raised? Furman: "The plan is for Congress to raise the debt limit."