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While the GOP preps House members with guidance in the event of a government shutdown, they're also readying a one-week stop-gap funding bill, including $12 billion in domestic discretionary cuts, and six month's worth of Pentagon funding.

The purpose is simple. If negotiations over a six-month spending package don't yield an agreement in the next day or two, the Congress will be armed with the proper protocols for operating during shutdown. But the House of Representatives will also pass a politically tough temporary funding package -- with cuts too deep for many Democrats to accept -- and leave the question of a shutdown in their hand. If the Senate can pass it, and the President signs it, it buys congressional leaders and the White House another week to hash out a longer plan -- but at the cost of steep, steep cuts. On an annualized basis, it would amount to well over half a trillion dollars.

Both the White House and the Senate Democrats have indicated that their patience with short term measures has run out. Indeed, Republicans have publicly insisted they oppose further stopgaps, suggesting this is a strong-arm negotiating tactic. If they stick to their guns and let this measure fail, House Republicans will lay the shutdown at their feet. Democratic leaders have yet to respond to this development.

At a House GOP caucus meeting Monday evening, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told members to expect to receive guidance on Tuesday outlining protocol in the event of a government shutdown.

If funding for the government is not renewed before Friday, members will be advised to furlough non-essential employees, who will be told not to communicate using office resources in accordance with federal law.

Furloughed employees will have to pitch in their employer's share of monthly health insurance premiums, the student loan repayment program will be terminated when the shutdown begins, and retirement credit will be reduced.

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Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, has declared the five week shutdown of the Indiana legislature -- led by Democrats upset with Republican-led right-to-work laws and Gov. Mitch Daniels' (R) agenda -- to be an unqualified success.

Trumka told TPM at a roundtable with reporters that despite the hardships he said were faced by union workers, labor supporters and Democrats in general in Indiana, progressive-leaning politicians in the Hoosier state were able to pull off the upset win.

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is considering a run for president, has some strong words in reaction to President Obama's re-election campaign announcement, and Obama's widely-reported goal of raising $1 billion: That it constitutes extortion.

CNN reports:

"Here's a president who 18 months before the election is going to use his office to extort contributions on a scale we've never seen before," Gingrich said in New Hampshire where he addressed the Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester. "He's in effect trying to create a Chicago style machine for the whole country with a billion dollars."


And The Hill reports:

"With their announced goal of raising a billion dollars in order to drown out their opposition, one thing is certain: it begins and ends with political extortion," Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said in a statement reacting to Obama's announcement.


TPM has e-mailed Tyler for an explanation of how Obama's reported lofty fundraising goals would constitute extortion. We have not received an immediate reply as of this writing.

The recall movements are continuing in Wisconsin, in the wake of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's newly-passed law curtailing public employee unions. And while it has appeared that more energy is on the Dem side, the Republicans could be on the verge of triggering a recall against at least one Democrat.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Dan Hunt, chairman of Taxpayers to Recall Robert Wirch, says his organization has "well over" the 13,537 signatures required to force Wirch into a recall election, though he said the group still has a goal to collect 18,000, in case some of the signatures are disqualified. He said it's likely the signatures would be filed with the state Government Accountability Board next week.

"Let the voters of Senate District 22 decide whether Senator Wirch was justified when he left the Senate to flee to Illinois," Hunt said in a statement, referring to a tactic used by Democratic state senators to stall a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill. After three weeks, Republicans stripped the bill of items that made a Democratic presence necessary, and passed it without Democratic votes.


On the other side of the coin, Democrats have already filed petitions to trigger a recall against GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke, and local Dems are currently reviewing their signatures against GOP state Sen. Randy Hopper. Other recall petitions efforts are still ongoing, and have due dates ranging from late-April to mid-May.

If you're John Boehner, you really hate Chuck Schumer right now. Schumer responded to the latest government shutdown contretemps by calling the House Speaker's posture a phony dance for the Tea Party.

"A compromise on the budget is right there for the taking, assuming the Speaker still wants one," Schumer said in a statement to reporters. "We take it for granted that because of the intense political pressure being applied by the Tea Party, the Speaker needs to play an outside game as well as an inside game. As long as he continues to negotiate, it's OK by us if he needs to strike a different pose publicly."

Contra the GOP, Schumer says Boehner has agreed to a spending cut number privately, and just needs to find a way to make the medicine go down with members of his own party.

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The recall drives in Wisconsin, where Democrats are seeking to throw Republican state Senators out in a backlash against Gov. Scott Walker's newly-passed law curtailing public employee unions, are picking up further steam -- with local Dems saying they might already have enough signatures to recall GOP state Sen. Randy Hopper.

The Oshkosh Northwestern reports:

Organizers of a campaign to oust Republican Senator Randy Hopper believe they may have enough signatures to force a recall election.

Organizers are in the process of verifying that the signatures came from eligible voters before filing the petition with the state, said Fond du Lac Democratic Party Chairman Rich Mantz. He would not say how soon organizers would be ready to file the recall petition.

"We have not confirmed we have enough signatures. We still are doing all our double-checking," Mantz said.

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Former Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams, who stepped down from the group after making a series of racist remarks, has a plan to "infiltrate and sabotage" the Obama campaign by volunteering as a campaign worker.

In an interview with TPM, Williams could not specify what exactly his subterfuge would entail, but said it would probably "come under the general heading of 'not exactly representing him in a fine light.'"

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With the threat of a government shutdown looming if Republicans and Democrats don't agree on spending cuts by the end of the week, President Obama is stepping up his role in last-minute budget negotiations and plans to meet with Congressional leaders over lunch Tuesday.

Democratic senators and Vice President Joe Biden have said both sides have agreed to a rough spending-cut figure of $33 billion but are still haggling over whether to include several policy riders on the bill and exactly where to focus some $6 to $8 billion of the spending cuts.

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