And Then There Were 17: GOP Support For A Clean C.R. Slips

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • BARE MAJORITY IN HOUSE SUPPORTS 'CLEAN' C.R.: Speaker John Boehner told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday that "there are not the votes in the House to pass a clean CR," meaning he did not believe a majority of House members would support continued funding for the government without conditions attached. According to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and ALEX LAZAR, it looks like he might be wrong, but just barely. By ABC News' count, 217 members say they would support a "clean" measure to extend all government funding without other conditions attached, such as defunding or delaying the president's health care law. 217 is the threshold needed to pass the measure.
  • HOW DID WE GET TO THAT NUMBER? Last weekend, 195 Democrats signed a letter to Boehner that said, "Enough is enough. … We demand a vote on a clean continuing resolution immediately so that government functioning can resume and Americans can move on with their lives." Aides to the five other House Democrats - Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Jim Matheson of Utah, Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Ron Kind of Wisconsin and John Barrow of Georgia - told ABC News today that they would vote for a clean "continuing resolution," or CR. That makes 200 Democratic votes for a clean CR. Also, according to ABC News' count, there are 17 Republicans who have publicly said they would support a "clean" CR if it were brought to the floor. More Details on ABC's Clean C.R. Whip Count:
  • OBAMA - 'LET THE BILL GO TO THE FLOOR': During a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington yesterday, President Obama challenged House Speaker John Boehner to "let the bill go to the floor" - a reference to a clean spending bill, ABC's DEVIN DWYER reports. "I have said from the start of the year that I'm happy to talk to Republicans about anything related to the budget," Obama said inside FEMA's National Response Coordination Center. "There is not a subject that I am not willing to engage in, work on, negotiate and come up with commonsense compromises on." Obama added, however, that he "cannot do that under the threat" of prolonged shutdown or default, which he said Republicans were using as leverage to "get a hundred percent of what they want." Speaking at FEMA, Obama challenged Boehner to put a government funding measure on the floor for a vote, with no strings attached. The speaker told Stephanopoulos Sunday that the votes are not there. Obama said, "If Republicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there are not enough votes, then they should prove it. Let the bill go to the floor, and let's see what happens. Just vote. Let every member of Congress vote their conscience, and they can determine whether or not they want to shut the government down."


ABC's RICK KLEIN: A week into the shutdown, nobody's happy. But the trend lines should tell an important piece of the story in a fight neither side has fully embraced. (Go ahead - try to find a member of Congress who'll say, "Yes, I'm for the government shutdown.") Roughly half the country disapproves of how President Obama is handling the budget standoff - a number virtually unchanged over the past week, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. But Republicans' numbers are markedly worse - 7 in 10 disapprove of their position. And the GOP's numbers have gotten worse since the start of the standoff. Republicans themselves are driving that number - the party's deep splits, on display for all members of Congress to feel. In that context, House Speaker John Boehner has shown a remarkable ability to hold his conference together. But it's more clear than ever that can't last indefinitely.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: A filibuster has never been waged over a fight to raise the debt limit, but that could soon change. With the House entrenched in discord, the Senate is poised to take up the debt ceiling debate first. Democrats believe they have enough votes to overcome a filibuster threat. That would require six Republicans to come to their side. With only nine days until the next fiscal deadline on Oct. 17, time could be against Republicans, who still hope to reach a bigger deal over spending and entitlement reform. One option that could attract GOP support: The administration agreeing to do something on entitlement reform, perhaps setting up a commission to have serious negotiations after the debt ceiling is raised. We ran into Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who summed it up like this last night: "There's nobody in America that believes the president's not going to negotiate something to get an overall deal."

ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: As the country lurched toward the beginning of the second week of the shutdown, a very different kind of government bailout happened yesterday. Houston-based hedge fund manager John Arnold and his wife, Laura, pledged $10 million to help more than 7,000 children who have been kicked out of Head Start programs in six states since last Tuesday. "Like everyone else, we are disappointed in the stalemate that has led to the federal government's shutdown. Our representatives' inability to resolve their differences has caused severe disruptions in the lives of many low-income Americans," the Arnolds, who have a net worth of roughly $2.8 billion, said in a joint statement. "We believe that it is especially unfair that young children from underprivileged communities and working families pay the price for the legislature's collective failures." Here are some numbers to chew on, courtesy of the National Head Start Association: "At the end of the first week of the government shutdown, seven Head Start programs in six states (AL, CT, FL, GA, SC and MS) were closed, leaving 7,195 of our nation's most vulnerable children without access to Head Start."

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Speaker Boehner said on "This Week" Sunday he didn't have enough votes in the House "to pass a clean CR." He may be right. ABC News' count has only 217 members who have said they would support a clean continuing resolution to fund the government. With four Republicans changing their minds in just the past day there may be more who would flip when it actually comes to a vote, of course the opposite could happen as well. The president called on Boehner yesterday to "prove" there wasn't enough votes and bring it to the floor and then members can "vote their "conscience" publicly. With the shutdown in week two is it time to at least try? It's likely the answer to that question at least from most Republicans is "no" and the next step is a deal that also encompasses the October 17th debt ceiling deadline.


REPUBLICANS LOSE GROUND VS. OBAMA IN THE SHUTDOWN BLAME GAME. Republicans in Congress have lost ground against Barack Obama in blame over the government shutdown, with Americans expressing increasing criticism of both parties in Washington, while the president's avoided that rise in public ire, according to ABC News Pollster GARY LANGER. Seventy percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove of how the Republicans in Congress are handling the budget negotiations, up 7 percentage points from a week ago. Far fewer, 51 percent, disapprove of Obama's approach, essentially unchanged in the past week. The Democrats in Congress remain between the two: Sixty-one percent disapprove of their handling of the budget breakdown, up 5 points in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

-ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT THE RESULTS, Obama's gone from 41-50 percent approve-disapprove last week to 45-51 percent now - a 9-point negative margin then, a similar 6-point negative margin today. The Democrats likewise show little change overall (from a 22- to a 26-point negative gap). But the Republicans have gone from 26-63 percent approve-disapprove to 24-70 percent, an initial 37-point difference widening now to a 46-point negative result.


SENATE TO MOVE AHEAD ON 'CLEAN' DEBT-LIMIT INCREASE. The Senate is preparing to move ahead this week on legislation to raise the nation's debt ceiling, Senate aides told ABC News, with Majority Leader Harry Reid expected to file a bill soon on a "clean" debt-limit increase, without any restrictions, ABC's JEFF ZELENY reports. "We've got to get the wheels turning," a top Senate leadership aide told ABC News today. The Senate will begin debate later this week on an extension of the debt ceiling, most likely for one year, aides said. The first test votes could come as early as Friday. With only 10 days until the debt-ceiling deadline Oct. 17, Senate Democrats are attempting to jump-start a debate on increasing the nation's borrowing power of $16.7 trillion. Strong resistance is expected from some Republicans, aides say, so Reid wants to give the Senate enough time to overcome the threat of a filibuster. If Republicans exhaust all procedural options, the earliest the Senate could approve the bill is Oct. 15. It's an open question on how challenging it will be to pass the debt-ceiling increase. Democrats will not only need to hold all of their own, including the senators facing tough re-election fights next year, but also attract a half-dozen Republicans. Most Republicans argue that any increase in the debt ceiling must come with spending cuts and other policy changes.

NOTED: TOP OBAMA ADVISER: 'ERA OF THREATENING DEFAULT IS OVER.' President Obama's top economic adviser today suggested that negotiating with Republicans over an increase to the nation's debt limit could be more harmful to the U.S. economy than default itself. "If you sanction through negotiation the legitimacy of somebody threatening default, then that is going to happen over and over again," National Economic Council director Gene Sperling told ABC's JONATHAN KARL at an event sponsored by Politico yesterday. "So sanctioning negotiations with someone threatening default is not going to end the risk of default; it's likely to increase the chances that we as a country eventually default. The only way for us to go forward is to all make clear the era of threatening default is over," he added. The comment reflects a White House that's digging in even more deeply rather than moving toward any concessions to House Republicans, increasing the prospect of the nation's first-ever default.

SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS 'AT RISK' IN DEBT FIGHT. Social Security benefits for millions of Americans could be put on hold in as few as 10 days if the nation's debt limit is not increased, the Obama administration said yesterday, ABC's DEVIN DWYER reports. In response to a flood of questions from concerned beneficiaries, the Social Security Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, has begun advising people that it cannot guarantee payments after Oct. 17 unless and until Congress acts. "Unlike a federal shutdown which has no impact on the payment of Social Security benefits, failure to raise the debt ceiling puts Social Security benefits at risk," a Social Security spokesman told ABC News. Neither the Social Security Administration nor Treasury Department would elaborate on specifics of how and when payments could be reduced or cut off. Those contingency plans are still being worked out, a Social Security official said.

WHY ONE CONGRESSMAN IS TELLING HIS FURLOUGHED STAFF TO GET BACK TO WORK. Furlough days may be over for some congressional staffers who have been forced to stay home during the government shutdown. But that doesn't necessarily mean they'll get paid anytime soon, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., announced yesterday in a statement that he had ordered all his staff members to return to work starting Tuesday. His rationale: Taxpayers shouldn't pay the bill for their paid vacations. Over the weekend, the House passed legislation that guaranteed that furloughed federal employees would be paid once the government reopened. President Obama has indicated he would support the legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn't yet said when the Senate might vote on it. Sanford said that the bill's passage, which is pending a Senate vote, and Obama's signature, means that there's no longer any justification for staff members to continue to stay home. More than half of Sanford's office is currently furloughed. "I think common sense would dictate that now that it's clear everyone will be paid, that they should work - anything less would amount to an extended taxpayer subsidized vacation," Sanford said.

FROM NEWT, WITH LOVE: EX-SPEAKER GINGRICH OFFERS SHUTDOWN ADVICE. Newt Gingrich has made a name for himself as a former presidential contender and zoo aficionado, but the recent government shutdown, which is entering its second week, has given the former House speaker a reason to remind everyone that he was also at the center of twin shutdown crises in 1995 and 1996, ABC's ALISA WIERSEMA reports. The 1995 conflict was rooted in disagreements between Congress and President Clinton's addressing the funding of a variety of social programs, as well as balancing the 1996 federal budget. The Republican-controlled House, led by Gingrich, proposed a spending bill in late November 1995 that Clinton promptly vetoed. The veto sent the government into a 28-day-long shutdown. If this scenario sounds familiar, it does to Gingrich, too. Never one to shy away from giving fellow Republicans - and even Democrats - political advice, he's offering it up once again during the shutdown of 2013. Here are some pearls of wisdom from the former Georgia congressman turned co-host of CNN's "Crossfire":

SUPREME COURT TACKLES MOST IMPORTANT CAMPAIGN FINANCE CASE SINCE CITIZENS UNITED. The issue of campaign finance returns to the Supreme Court today in a case brought by an Alabama businessman who wanted to contribute more money during the last election cycle, ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE notes. "This case is about freedom of speech," says businessman Shaun McCutcheon. "It's about my right to make contributions to the candidates I choose." In the 2012 election cycle, McCutcheon contributed a total of $33,088 in congressional races across the nation. He abided by the base limits set by federal law. Currently individuals may contribute $2,600 per election to a particular candidate committee and $32,400 to a national party committee. But McCutcheon wanted to give money to more candidates and was blocked from doing so by aggregate campaign contribution limits set by federal law. Those limits in a two-year cycle are $48,600 to a candidate committee and $74,600 to a non candidate committee. "I am a conservative activist and I want to support candidates and committees that agree with my views," McCutcheon says. He says he is happy to stay within the base limits, but "as a donor, I don't think I should have to stay up all night seeing if I have hit an aggregate limit. I'm just a donor practicing my free speech under the First Amendment."

MORE CELEBRITIES STAGE STAR-STUDDED EFFORT TO SELL OBAMACARE. In the week since the launch of Obamacare's state health insurance exchanges, a steady stream of celebrity advocates (think Lady Gaga, Connie Britton, Olivia Wilde, Taye Diggs, Kate Bosworth, Sarah Silverman and Justin Long) have taken to social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to encourage Americans to #GetCovered (to use their preferred hashtag). It's all part of an orchestrated public awareness campaign that the White House has been preparing since early summer, ABC's ANNETA KONSTANTINIDES writes. The effort included a widely publicized July 22 meeting hosted by Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett that included various celebrities like Hudson, Amy Poehler and Michael Cera, as well as entertainment representatives. Also in attendance were White House Entertainment Advisory Council co-chairs Eric Ortner, actor Kal Penn and Warner Music Group's Bruce Roberts. In an interview with ABC News, Ortner was quick to point out that the purpose of the meeting was to give the stars facts about the law, also called Obamacare, and let them pass information to their fans. "What we do is just get people together, build a network based on true facts and real stories, and ask them to expose them without the veil of partisan politics to their audience," Ortner said. "These are just people that want to tell the truth to their networks."


@donnabrazile: GOP refuses to pass bill to keep things the way they are. We're not asking to fix any problems- just to refrain from creating new ones.

@TonyFratto: I mean, if the federal government owed me $ for goods or services rendered, and failed to pay, no question I'd call it a default.

@tedhesson: The cost of protecting Joe Arpaio is going up. Overtime alone was $120,000 this year

@PhilipRucker: Brian Ellis today launches GOP primary challenge against Rep. Justin Amash. Our preview from Mich: …

@ByronYork: Common to hear that Cruz, Lee & other GOP rebels are making it up as they go along…