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Congress: Shutdown looms

“A White House push for a budget deal yesterday devolved into an exchange of accusations over spending priorities and political gamesmanship, increasing the odds of a partial government shutdown on Friday,” the Boston Globe reports.

Roll Call: “Democratic and Republican leaders scrambled late Tuesday to salvage their weeks-long negotiations over a long-term spending bill after talks collapsed in an exchange of partisan fireworks.”

The New York Times on the numbers: "While Appropriations Committee aides have been assembling legislation based on $33 billion in cuts, that proposal has not gone over well with many House Republicans, who have already approved $61 billion in spending reductions for this year and do not appear to want to bend far from that figure. Several officials familiar with the morning session at the White House said Mr. Boehner had indicated that he could potentially sell spending cuts of about $40 billion to more of his members — a $7 billion increase from what Democrats viewed as their earlier agreement with the speaker."

Congressional watcher Norm Ornstein writes, “In many ways, the most interesting dynamic right now is that surrounding Speaker John Boehner, who has in the past been a first-rate legislator, knows how the legislative process works and knows the risks of a shutdown — to the economy and to his party — are high.” And, he says, Republicans eventually will have to defend their budget.

If there is a government shutdown, what closes and what stays open? Per NBC's Kevin Hurd, Reagan OMB Director David A. Stockman issued a memorandum in 1981 to heads of executive agencies detailing examples of activities that should be exempted from shutting down. The memo, which was included in a Congressional Research Service analysis this February, was used in the 1995-1996 shutdown. It reads:

Conduct essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property, including:

a. Medical care of inpatients and emergency outpatient care;
b. Activities essential to ensure continued public health and safety, including safe use of food and drugs and safe use of hazardous materials;
c. The continuance of air traffic control and other transportation safety functions and the protection of transport property;
d. Border and coastal protection and surveillance;
e. Protection of Federal lands, buildings, waterways, equipment and other property owned by the United States;
f. Care of prisoners and other persons in the custody of the United States;
g. Law enforcement and criminal investigations;
h. Emergency and disaster assistance;
i. Activities essential to the preservation of the essential elements of the money and banking system of the United States, including borrowing and tax collection activities of the Treasury;
j. Activities that ensure production of power and maintenance of the power distribution system; and
k. Activities necessary to maintain protection of research property.

The Boston Globe also looks at who would keep working and who might not if there’s a government shutdown.

The Boston Globe breaks down what exactly is in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal, including Medicare: “Wipes out funding for Obama’s health care initiative and changes the status of Medicare as an open-ended entitlement. People now 54 and younger would upon retirement get a fixed amount from the federal government to buy insurance from a range of regulated private plans. The payment would go directly to the health insurance plan. Starting in 2022, the eligibility age for Medicare, now 65, would be gradually increased until it reaches 67 in 2033. Seniors already on Medicare and people within 10 years of retirement would be able to go into the traditional program as it exists today.”

The New York Daily News says Ryan “is grabbing the third rail of American politics with both hands… But it does reframe the debate in Washington, with Republicans showing they're willing to propose politically risky cuts to keep the deficit from spiraling out of control.”

The New York Times on the proposal: “By its mix of deep cuts in taxes and domestic spending, and its shrinkage of the American safety net, the plan sets the conservative parameter of the debate over the nation’s budget priorities further to the right than at any time since the modern federal government began taking shape nearly eight decades ago.”

“Democrats and Republicans wasted no time on Tuesday turning House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan into a partisan rallying point,” Roll Call writes.

For all the talk of Ryan’s budget, don’t forget about the “Gang of Six,” The Hill reminds.

“All but a dozen Senate Democrats joined a united Senate GOP Conference on Tuesday in voting 87-12 to send Obama the House-passed version of a bill to repeal a requirement that companies to file a 1099 form with the IRS every time they conduct $600 worth of business with a vendor,” Roll Call writes.