How Long Will The Shutdown Last?

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • HUNKER DOWN: This government shutdown could go considerably longer than anticipated, according to ABC's JONATHAN KARL. Just a few days ago, key players in both parties assumed there would be no shutdown and even if it did happen, so the thinking went, it would only last a matter of hours or, at most, a day or two. It now appears likely the shutdown will drag on all week - and potentially beyond that. The White House is preparing for the possibility that President Obama's planned trip next week (he is scheduled to leave Saturday) to Asia will need to be canceled. If this drags on into next week, and it easily could, the shutdown will be overshadowed by the far bigger problem: the prospect of US government default on October 17. Republicans seem to think Democrats will be forced into one big negotiation on both issues. There is no indication whatsoever that the White House will budge from its firm no-negotiation position on either one.
  • HAPPENING TODAY: With government departments and agencies officially in shutdown mode Tuesday morning, the warring parties on Capitol Hill appear just as entrenched as they did when the standoff started, ABC's JEFF ZELENY, JOHN PARKINSON and MICHAEL FALCONE note. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called the Senate back into session at 9:30 a.m., but the Democrats signaled no changes to their strategy of holding firm against any changes to President Obama's signature health care law. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives adjourned after 1 a.m. and is scheduled to reconvene at 10:00 a.m. House Speaker John Boehner left the Capitol without an agreement in place to open it back up. Boehner and the Republican leaders in the House are insisting on a conference with the Senate even announcing a team of eight Republicans who would lead the negotiations. it's becoming clear that the Senate has far less of the stomach to fight than the House. Several Republican senators told ABC News that the House position was untenable. "We can't win this fight," Sen. John McCain said, calling on GOP leaders in the other chamber to send the Senate a bill to fund the government - without a poison pill of delaying Obamacare attached.
  • HERE'S HOW IT WILL UNFOLD: As the White House and Congressional Democrats blame the Republicans for the shutdown, Republicans will accuse Democrats of being unreasonable for refusing to negotiate about anything, ABC's JONATHAN KARL notes. Look for the Republican-appointed "negotiators" - including GOP heavy hitters Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp - to convene for "negotiations" across from empty chairs, demanding that Democrats at least sit down to talk. The game will play out until somebody gives in.


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: The Capitol is hopelessly deadlocked. The House and Senate can keep passing the poisonous budget baton back and forth for days, but that's not likely to change the will on either side. So what will break the logjam? Public opinion and public sentiment is the best - or perhaps the only - antidote. The shutdown has been theoretical until now. But as soon as lawmakers start hearing voices from back home and real examples of hardship start dominating local news coverage and dinner table conversations, there is likely to be movement. The late-night House GOP idea of trying to send this to a conference committee took the Senate by surprise. But even though it was clever, it doesn't change a thing. Why would we presume that a small group of lawmakers could settle what the rest of Congress cannot?

ABC's RICK KLEIN: The government shutdown has its roots in titanic forces: America's deep political divide, partisan redistricting, the whiplash-producing "change" elections of the last decade, the rise of the tea party and its rejection of all things surrounding the reelected president. But it's also about the pettiest things in political life: name-calling, mistrust, lack of negotiating, lack of even basic lawmaking. Congress has spent, and continues to spend, so much time on the little things that the big things are hardly relevant. There will be political fallout, plenty of losers, and maybe even winners. But history should record this as an epic failure of the most basic functions of the legislative and executive branches. The nation slid into a wasteful and pointless government shutdown that nobody wants - that, indeed, everyone is claiming loudly to be fighting, even now. It won't last forever, but no one should ever be proud of where we've arrived.

ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: Whatever the legislative solution to the government shutdown is, members of Congress - especially Republicans - would be well-advised to figure it out. And fast. That's according to several striking poll numbers released over the past 24 hours. A Quinnipiac University poll out this morning shows that American voters, by an overwhelming 72 percent to 22 percent margin, oppose Congress shutting down the federal government to block implementation of Obamacare. And more than half of all voters in the survey (55 percent) mainly blame Republicans for gridlock gripping Washington. "President Barack Obama enters this standoff over the budget with an edge over Congressional Republicans in the voters' eyes," according to Quinnipiac pollster Peter A. Brown. More bad news for the GOP: An ABC News-Washington Post released yesterday indicated that 63 percent of Americans disapprove of Congressional Republicans handling of the budget debate vs. 50 percent who say the same of Obama. Neither are particularly good scores, but its definitely worse for the GOP.

ABC's TOM SHINE: Hundreds of Thousands of government workers won't get paid today because at midnight Congress failed to do something it has known it had to do since January - fund the government by Oct. 1. So as tons of workers are left without, members of Congress will continue to work in the luxury of comfortable offices, with all the amenities, protected by one of the largest police forces in the world and paid $476 each day by the American taxpayer.

ABC's RICHARD DAVIES: If the government shutdown lasts for more than a few days many businesses could be forced to lay off employees. Millions of firms do business every day with the federal government. Many still don't know which contracts will be honored during the shutdown. Already 800,000 federal workers are on furlough and many more are being asked to work without pay for now. Their spending at stores and restaurants will be reduced. During the last government shutdown in 1996 the economy was in much stronger shape than it is today. Economists have predicted that a two-week shutdown could reduce growth by to 0.4% for the fourth quarter. Second quarter growth was about 2.5 percent, so this could have a significant impact.


WASHINGTON SHUTS DOWN. Every single government department and agency - from the United States Postal Service to the Department of Education to the Environmental Protection Agency to NASA - will feel the immediate effects of the shutdown. According to government estimates, 800,000 of the more than 2 million federal workers could be furloughed, and the offices that employ them have released contingency plans noting how many employees would be forced to stay home and how many would be "excepted." The effects will be far-reaching: The Department of Education, for example, would furlough more than 90 percent of its total staff for the first week of a shutdown. The Centers for Disease Control would not be able to support the seasonal influenza program. Food safety and nutrition activities would also not be supported by the Food and Drug Administration.

WHAT OBAMA SAID YESTERDAY: "More than 2 million civilian workers and 1.4 million active-duty military serve in all 50 states and all around the world. In the event of a government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of these dedicated public servants who stay on the job will do so without pay - and several hundred thousand more will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay. What, of course, will not be furloughed are the bills that they have to pay - their mortgages, their tuition payments, their car notes. These Americans are our neighbors. Their kids go to our schools. They worship where we do. They serve their country with pride. They are the customers of every business in this country. And they would be hurt greatly, and as a consequence, all of us will be hurt greatly, should Congress choose to shut the people's government down."

WHAT WILL SHUT DOWN AND WHAT WON'T? From the shuttering of Congress's barber shop and dry cleaning, to confiscating blackberries and iPhones. Here are a few consequences of a shutdown that may surprise you, courtesy of ABC's ABBY PHILLIP.

WILL SHUT DOWN: The National Zoo will be shutting its doors to the public starting today. And that means the live stream of cute pandas also won't be running.

WON'T SHUT DOWN: Don't worry, the Zoo says it plans to keep feeding and caring for the animals.

WILL SHUT DOWN: You probably didn't know the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was working on a technology that lets cars "talk" to each other to avoid accidents. It turns out, however, this project is slated to be shelved in the event of a government shutdown. Another Federal Aviation Administration project - developing a new air traffic control system called NextGen - will also be stalled until funding for the government comes back online.

WON'T SHUT DOWN: The skies, however, will continue to be safe as air traffic controllers will still work through a shutdown.

WILL SHUT DOWN: 97 percent of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will be furloughed during a shutdown.

WON'T SHUT DOWN: The exception to the rule will be astronauts in space, who keep working shutdown or no shutdown. And so will mission control, which supports them.

Arctic, Antarctic and Polar Research is Safe. Other Science Research? Not So Much.

WILL SHUT DOWN: Life gets a little more inconvenient for Congressional staffers today. The House gift shop, barber shop, dry cleaning, dining room, shoe shine, and wellness center will all be closed. Only one entrance to each House office building will be open, staff and guide-led tours are cancelled, and the Capitol Visitors Center will be closed to tourists.

WON'T SHUT DOWN: Most of Capitol Hill will keep working through a shutdown. After all, they're needed to pass a new bill to fund the government. Each congressional office determines who is essential and who isn't.

GOOD NEWS FOR TRAVELERS DURING THE SHUTDOWN. Given the frustrating politics of the government-shutdown stalemate, now seems like a perfect time to leave the country, at least until this whole unpleasantness blows over, ABC's CHRIS GOOD notes. The good news is: you can! The U.S. will continue to issue passports, even after the federal government has shut down, the State Department said Monday. Passports are funded by the fees paid by applicants, making them immune to budget politics, State Dept. officials said. It doesn't matter whether Congress funds the government, because passports pay for themselves. "When you go in and you renew your passport, as you're looking forward to traveling with us around the world, you pay a fee, and that helps fund the program, and so that allows the programs and the consular steps to continue," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at Monday's daily press briefing. There's only one catch: Some passport offices are located in federal buildings that will close along with the shutdown, but for reasons unrelated to passports. The State Department recommends calling ahead to make sure an office is open, before going there to apply. Embassies and consulates won't close today, either.

EVEN WITH THREAT OF SHUTDOWN, HEALTH CARE EXCHANGES 'READY TO GO. The government shut down at midnight Monday, but according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, it will have no effect on the next phase of the Affordable Care Act, the opening of the new health insurance marketplaces, which launched this morning, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. "Shutdown or no shutdown, we are ready to go, to start enrolling people tomorrow," Sebelius said at a news briefing yesterday. She said about 52 percent of HHS employees will be deemed unessential and furloughed, but that will not affect any workers in the call centers or "navigators" tasked with helping people to sign up. Most of the funding for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was provided in the law so it would not be affected even if the federal government shuts down. Sebelius did say it was "hard to tell" how a prolonged shutdown could affect implementation of the law down the road, though. "That begins to look more serious the longer it takes," Sebelius said, noting that much of HHS' operations will be covered under "mandatory money." She also acknowledged that there were bound to be "glitches" when the new insurance marketplaces come online Tuesday morning, and people begin to sign up. HHS is running all or part of the marketplace exchanges in 36 states; the others will be handled by each state individually. She compared that possibility to Apple's latest software upgrade, which asked users to download an additional update to fix problems with the initial update.

POLL: DISAPPROVAL ON BUDGET DEBATE PUTS THE GOP AT GREATER RISK. An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds the Republicans in Congress at greater risk of political damage in a government shutdown: Sixty-three percent of Americans disapprove of their handling of the budget debate, 13 points worse than Barack Obama's rating on the issue, ABC's GARY LANGER writes. Neither side gets remotely positive scores, indicating plenty of irritation to go around. But Obama's 41-50 percent approval rating for handling the budget negotiations far exceeds the GOP's 26-63 percent. The Democrats in Congress fall between the two, at 34-56 percent. While these views are highly partisan and ideological, the Republicans are weaker in their base. Seventy-one percent of Democrats and 61 percent of liberals approve of Obama's handling of the issue. Fewer Republicans or conservatives approve of the GOP's performance, 56 percent and just 40 percent, respectively. Notably, even among those who call themselves "very" conservative, fewer than half, 45 percent, approve of how the Republicans in Congress are handling the issue. (Naturally, even fewer in this group, 17 percent, approve of Obama's approach.)


CNN, NBC BOTH CANCEL HILLARY CLINTON FILMS. Both CNN and NBC canceled their planned Hillary Clinton films, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. CNN Films scrubbed its Hillary Clinton film first, after director Charles Ferguson backed out of the project yesterday, citing the difficulties he had finding sources and interview subjects for the production: "Nobody, and I mean nobody was interested in helping me make this film." Then, NBC, too, scrapped its own mini-series, which was set to star Diane Lane. "After reviewing and prioritizing our slate of movie/mini-series development, we've decided that we will no longer continue developing the Hillary Clinton mini-series," an NBC spokesperson said. Earlier, CNN told ABC News in a statement: "Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton. Charles is an Academy Award winning director who CNN Films was excited to be working with, but we understand and respect his decision." In a blog post on the Huffington Post yesterday, Ferguson said both sides of the political aisle had no interest in helping with the film and he received pressure from Clinton aides and supporters to ditch the project. He said he eventually found only two people willing to go on camera.


@mviser: The front page of today's Daily News is something else. "House of Turds."

@JillDLawrence: . @newtgingrich told me '95-96 #shutdown didn't hurt GOP much. . Gallup suggests he's right.

@matthewjdowd: A smart and savvy republican wanting to be president should come up with community oriented solutions not based in Dc or the federal govt.

@EvanMcSan: alarm clocks still work during gov't shutdown which seems to be a real problem with gov't shutdowns

@tackettdc: @sentedcruz is "dictating policy in the House of Representatives right now," @chrisvanhollen says #bgov