Good morning! It’s another working (cue the snarky comments) weekend for members of Congress as news accounts describe lots of talking but no consensus on how to end the partial government shutdown and raise the nation’s debt ceiling in time to avoid default as early as next week.
Attention is now focused on the Senate, where Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., are working on legislation that would fund government through the end of March. Sequester-related cuts would continue, but agencies would have more flexibility in apportioning them, according to details reported by McClatchy. The plan would also raise the borrowing limit through the end of January and perhaps repeal a tax on medical devices.
But it’s not clear that such a plan can fly in the Republican-controlled House, where a proposal from GOP leaders to raise the debt ceiling until late November in return for talks over broader budget and tax code changes got a thumbs down from the Obama administration yesterday. That timetable “would put us right back where we are today in just six weeks, on the verge of Thanksgiving and the obviously important shopping season leading up to the holidays,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
There’s still no indication, by the way, of when the Senate will take up a House-passed bill to ensure that hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees are paid retroactively once the shutdown ends. In a summary of a letter released yesterday, Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., lead sponsors of the House measure, pleaded with Senate leaders to work with their members to end a reported “hold” on the bill.
In other news:
President Obama signed hastily passed legislation allowing the government to resume payment of “death gratuities” to the families of fallen service members. The measure means that the Defense Department will no longer need to outsource that assignment to a private foundation.
Obama also told a TV station that anti-federal worker rhetoric is “damaging and destructive.”
The Defense Department has suspended all Combined Federal Campaign activities until the shutdown ends.
Any major developments we’ve missed, particularly in regard to agency news? Let us know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.