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Shutdown Diary: Day 2

Anti-shutdown protesters in Los Angeles may have had enough of the budget crisis, but it appears to be far from over.
Jae C. Hong
Anti-shutdown protesters in Los Angeles may have had enough of the budget crisis, but it appears to be far from over.

Wednesday's Highlights:

White House

Day 2 of the federal government shutdown found President Obama summoning congressional leaders to the White House to urge House Republicans to pass legislation to reopen agencies and raise the debt ceiling to avoid a first-ever default by the U.S. (Nothing was resolved; here's the story.)

Before the late-afternoon meeting, Republicans wondered why the president would invite them if he didn't intend to negotiate. But White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters before the meeting that the get-together was less about negotiating and more about urging lawmakers to do their jobs.

"A negotiation in the Washington sense traditionally implies give and take, trade-offs, demands, you know, 'If you give me this, I'll take that, or I'll give you that,' " Carney said. "The president's approach from the beginning in this is that he's asking for nothing — nothing — from Republicans. He is attaching zero demands to the general proposition that Congress should simply open the government, keep it open. He's asking for nothing. He is making no demands."

Obama met earlier in the day with a group of financial industry chieftains to talk about the economy. Leaving the White House, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein looked appropriately concerned.

"There's a consensus that we shouldn't do anything that hurts this recovery that is a little bit shallow, not very well-established and quite vulnerable. The shutdown of the government , but particularly, the failure to raise the debt ceiling, would accomplish that."


Senate Democrats held a news conference to offer what they said was a new proposal to escape the impasse. But it turned out to be a restatement of their previous position — that House Republicans should pass the Senate's temporary spending bill that would simply reopen the government, nothing else.

House Republicans passed several piecemeal bills to free up money to Veterans Affairs, the National Park Service and Washington, D.C. True, those bills were DOA in the Senate but they at least provided the GOP with additional talking points.

Meanwhile, a number of lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, said they wouldn't take their salaries during the shutdown. Some planned to donate the money to charities.

In a fascinating twist, House Democrats did something meant to put Republicans further on the defensive. And it came on an issue unrelated to the shutdown: They introduced an immigration overhaul bill. It's likely going nowhere in the House but, along with the shutdown, it will be another cudgel for them to hammer the GOP with.

The American People (And Their Lobbying Groups)

More honor-flight veterans visited Washington, D.C.'s war memorials as these old soldiers, sailors and airmen became octogenarian symbols in the shutdown fight. The Republican narrative was that the Obama administration had tried to bar the vets from visiting the World War II, Korean and Vietnam memorials.

But Democrats weren't about to lose the vet war. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois made a flanking maneuver by mentioning at a Senate Democrats' news conference that he had spent part of his morning at a memorial with vets from the Land of Lincoln.

Also, the Interior Department and National Park Service said they would make exceptions for honor-flight vets.

Conservative activists also started circulating lists of House Republicans who have indicated their willingness to reopen the government by voting for a spending bill without GOP agenda items, like defunding Obamacare. List recipients were urged to call the lawmakers to express their displeasure. That would be easier, of course, if there were aides to answer the phones, but they've been furloughed.

Some Democrats came up with "Flat Boehner" (as in the character Flat Stanley) and urged their supporters to take snapshots of the two-dimensional Speaker John Boehner at various shuttered locations and share them.

Speaking of shared photos, the blogger behind ArmyWife101.com asked people to share their images of Army commissaries where many military families shop for groceries because they get a 30 percent discount.

The stateside commissaries closed Wednesday because of the shutdown, which means Army families will be paying a lot more for food. But before they closed, Army families bought what they could and waited in long lines to do so. Just more unfortunate shutdown fallout.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

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