The Note: Shutdown tests limits to party loyalty

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 14, 2019.PlaySaul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH Trump meets with coalition of Democrats and Republicans as shutdown drags on

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The government shutdown will not end with a State of the Union threat, or with a meeting of "problem solvers" who haven't actually solved any big problems, and maybe not even with more "Chuck and Nancy" meetings at the White House.

But when it does end, it will likely be because one side or the other finds the limits in the loyalty they can count on when it comes to the dispute President Donald Trump has framed.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 14, 2019. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 14, 2019.

Trump has glimpsed those limits, in the statement of moderate Senate Republicans who want the reopen the rest of the government, and even in the suggestions being offered by Sen. Lindsey Graham. Yet there's been no rush of GOP defections -- at least not yet.

Democrats have reasons to be worried about their unity as well. It's not just members of the "Problem Solvers Caucus" who might hesitate before echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi contention that a border wall is "immoral."

Meanwhile, the shutdown pain grows, between lines at airports, stunted economic growth, delayed farm subsidies and missed paychecks for the Coast Guard.

Everyone is waiting for someone to blink. For that to happen, one side or the other is going to have to have their eyes forced open.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

While making her campaign announcement, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand seemed to emphasize she is not just a mom, but a young mom.

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls will no doubt lean into their youth as a way to draw comparisons with others in the pack. Party activists, after all, openly hand-wring about the need for a generational shift in leadership in Democratic ranks.

What a fascinating contrast with Pelosi in the new Congress. She retook the gavel at the start of the year despite calls from within the party for new faces. And her bold move Wednesday to all but cancel the State of the Union Address in the House chamber seemed to remind Democrats everywhere that experience actually can beget creative thinking.

The president has transformed how the town does business and likewise last year Senate Leader Mitch McConnell went nuclear.

The decision Wednesday, maybe more than the shutdown showdown itself, showed Pelosi's willingness to throw grenades too.

PHOTO: U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi conducts her weekly press conference in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2019. Ron Sachs/CNP/Polaris
U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi conducts her weekly press conference in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2019.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

He may have been running down Pancake Boulevard, but it's clear that Beto O'Rourke is still waffling. And not simply about a potential presidential campaign, but several other issues too.

In a Medium post Wednesday, the former Texas congressman described his visit earlier this week to southwestern Kansas, including his jaunt on the aforementioned road in the appropriately named town of Liberal.

But in the diary entry, and in a separate Washington Post interview Tuesday, O'Rourke came across as someone struggling to figure out exactly where he stands.

PHOTO: Rep. Beto ORourke, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, makes his concession speech at his election night party, Nov. 6, 2018, in El Paso, Texas. Eric Gay/AP, FILE
Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the 2018 Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas, makes his concession speech at his election night party, Nov. 6, 2018, in El Paso, Texas.

In the Medium post, the Democrat describes being "in and out of a funk" and seeking to clear his head. In the Washington Post, when asked about the border and Syria, he called for "debate" and "discussion," something he seems to have done a lot of while in Kansas, but far from the concrete solutions sought by the public as they continue to elude Washington's current leadership.

It's still unknown whether O'Rourke's Kerouacian listening tour will ultimately conclude with a presidential decision, but one thing appears clear: Unless his platform and positions solidify in the interim, when it's time for the real debates, he could be toast.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's episode features ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers, who explains why Speaker Nancy Pelosi is suggesting moving the date for the State of the Union address as the shutdown stalemate continues. We hear from Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., who met with the president Wednesday as part of the Problem Solvers Caucus. And, FiveThirtyEight Senior Political Writer Clare Malone tells us how Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., could capture the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jim Himes will lead a discussion on Capitol Hill for House Democrats on how to best engage constituents on Twitter at 8:15 a.m.
  • The president will unveil the new Missile Defense Review at the Pentagon at 11 a.m.
  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma, announcing the city as a winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge at 12:15 p.m. He will also meet with local volunteers from the anti-gun violence group "Moms Demand Action."
  • New York Rep. Elise Stefanik will launch a new PAC to help elect Republican women to Congress along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise at 12:30 p.m.
  • Billionaire and anti-Trump activist Tom Steyer will host a town hall in New Hampshire as part of his "Impeachment and 5 Rights Tour" at 7 p.m.

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