Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, the Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) worked with top congressional Democrats behind the scenes to preserve employer contributions for congressional staff's health care plans even as he decried those subsidies in public, Politico reported Tuesday.

Emails and documents obtained by Politico show Boehner and his aides worked with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), among others, to find a way to maintain the long-standing employer contributions. Those documents also show that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was aware of the behind-the-scenes talks.

In addition to those efforts, Boehner attempted to arrange a meeting with President Barack Obama to ask for help in securing the subsidies, the documents show. Although Boehner and the president never met to discuss the contributions, a senior Boehner aide was able to meet with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on the issue, according to Politico.

A Boehner spokesman denied that the speaker's efforts went against the speaker's public position on Obamacare.

“We always made it clear that the House would not pass any legislative ‘fix,’” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told the publication. “As POLITICO has previously reported, Speaker Boehner was aware that Sen. Reid and the White House were discussing this issue. He was always clear, however, that any ‘fix’ would be a Democratic ‘fix.’ His ‘fix’ is repealing” Obamacare.

Reid's communications director Adam Jentleson told Politico that the Nevada Democrat "appreciates Speaker Boehner’s cooperation and tireless efforts to work through this difficult issue."

House Republicans attempted to pass a temporary spending bill hours before the midnight deadline to fund the government Monday that included a provision denying employer contributions to congressional staff.

Rep. John Larson (D-CT) urged his colleagues to "do what's fair" and put aside partisan bickering for the sake of the American people as the shutdown of the federal government kicked in early Tuesday morning.

"The American people in the greatest land, the greatest country in the world deserve their government open," he said in a fiery one-minute speech from the House floor. "And they deserve to know where their members stand. Do you stand with your country, do you stand for your country, or do you want to take it down this evening?"

"Stand up for your country," he yelled. "Stand up for America. Stand with us this evening and keep this government going, in the name of fairness."



President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a statement at 12:25 p.m. ET Tuesday in the Rose Garden after meeting with Americans who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces, the White House announced.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and CNN's "New Day" co-host Chris Cuomo got into a heated exchange Tuesday over the government shutdown, with Issa arguing that Congress has the "right" to not fund the federal government.

Issa told Cuomo that House Republicans are looking to compromise on a temporary spending bill, and said that if the Senate rejects the House's offer to go to conference Tuesday morning the move would be tantamount to "rejecting the constitutional process." 

"You want to use the phrase constitutional mandate. I applaud you for using it," Cuomo said. "However, the mandate is for you to fund the government. Not for you to not fund the government. That's a decision you made here and you made it for the political reasons that you lay out."

"Chris, bless your heart, but not funding the government is part of funding it," Issa interjected. "If you have the right to fund the government, you have the right to fund the government to a lesser amount."

"[Former House Speaker] Tip O'Neill shut down the government seven times because President Reagan wouldn't agree to his excess spending," he continued. "If you can shut down because you don't get enough money spent, you can also have a discussion about spending too much." 

Cuomo then pressed the California Republican to say if he thought the government shutdown was wrong for hurting American families.

"You can't accuse me of beating my wife and then turn around and tell me, isn't that true? We did not shut down the government," Issa responded. "We offered to the Senate, again and again, things to keep the government fully funded. We have said we want to go to conference. We want to have a discussion about the delay of portions of Obamacare for a short period of time in order to get it right."

The Library of Congress announced Tuesday that it is closed to researchers and the public until further notice due to the federal government shutdown. All public events were canceled and websites were rendered inaccessible, with the exception of legislative information websites including Congress.gov.

President Barack Obama said Monday before the government shutdown that he "shouldn't have to offer anything" to Republicans in order to avert the crisis.

"They're not doing me a favor by paying for things that they have already approved for the government to do," Obama told NPR's Steve Inskeep in an interview recorded Monday afternoon. "That's part of their basic function of government; that's not doing me a favor. That's doing what the American people sent them here to do, carrying out their responsibilities."

"I have said consistently that I am always happy to talk to Republicans and Democrats about how we shape a budget that is investing in things like early-childhood education, rebuilding our roads and bridges … But we're not going to accomplish those things if one party to this conversation says that the only way that they come to the table is if they get 100 percent of what they want, and if they don't, they threaten to burn down the house," he continued. "That's not a negotiation." 

The president said it was "unfortunate" that House Republicans were not getting closer to a bill he would consider signing and reiterated that he would not delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as part of budget negotiations.

Senate Democrats debated leaking emails exchanged between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) chiefs of staff discussing employer contributions to congressional staff's health care, Roll Call reported Tuesday.

Senate Democratic chiefs of staff discussed email exchanges between Reid's chief David Krone and Boehner's chief Mike Sommers at a recent meeting, an anonymous source with knowledge of the meeting told Roll Call. The emails would reveal Boehner's stance on employer subsidies for his staff's health care plans, according to Roll Call.

Another anonymous individual who attended a dinner Monday night with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told the publication that the senator revealed to the lobbyists present that the emails would be leaked within a day.

A Boehner spokesman said the emails would reflect the speaker's anti-Obamacare position.

“Any emails from Mr. Sommers will reflect the Speaker’s position: he voted against Obamacare, and he wants to repeal Obamacare. If the Senate Democrats and the White House want to make a ‘fix’ to the law, it would be their fix. The Speaker’s ‘fix’ is repeal,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told Roll Call. “This is just a desperate act by Harry Reid’s staff to protect their own subsidy.”

Reid's spokesman declined to comment to the publication.

This post has been updated.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Monday that he believes all parties involved in the budget debate have handled it poorly, but faulted President Barack Obama in part for "waiting on leadership" from Congress.

Speaking at a roundtable on hunger in Red Bank, N.J., Christie called the shutdown "a failure of everyone who is responsible for the system," echoing comments he made last week. The governor said it's ultimately the executive's duty to force Republicans and Democrats to hammer out a bargain.

"My approach would be, as the executive: Call in the leaders of Congress or the Legislature and say, ‘We’re not leaving this room until we fix the problem,’” Christie said. “Because I’m the boss. I’m in charge. When you’re the executive and you’re waiting from leadership from the legislative branch or government — whether you’re a governor or you're the president or a mayor — you’re going to be waiting forever, forever, because they’re not built to lead and take risks.”

The Obama administration ordered executive departments to follow plans for a government shutdown shortly before midnight Monday, after the House GOP and Senate Democrats failed to reach an agreement on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government past Oct. 1.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's (R) wife Anita said Saturday that abortion "could be a woman's right." 

The Texas Tribune's Evan Smith asked Perry to expand on women's rights during their conversation at the 2013 Texas Tribune Fest, since he said the issue will resurface should state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) announce that she's running for governor as Associated Press sources suggest. Davis gained national attention when she staged an 11-hour filibuster of a restrictive abortion bill, which Rick Perry vocally supported

"That's really difficult for me, Evan, because I see it as a women's right," Perry said. "If they want to do that, that is their decision, they have to live with that decision." 

Smith then asked the state's first lady to clarify whether she believes it's a woman's right within the law to decide whether or not to have an abortion.

"Yeah, that could be a women's right," Perry responded. "Just like it's a man's right if he wants to have some kind of procedure. But I don't agree with it, and that's not my view."

"You know, the older that I get, there are two sides to every nickel," she added.

President Barack Obama said Monday that he plans to speak with congressional leaders over the next few days as lawmakers debate a continuing resolution to fund the government. 

"I suspect that I will be speaking to the leaders today, tomorrow and the next day," Obama said. "But there's a pretty straightforward solution to this. If you set aside the short-term politics and you look at the long-term here, what it simply requires is everybody to act responsibly and do what's right for the American people." 

The president said he was "not at all resigned" to a government shutdown, according to the Associated Press. The current continuing resolution runs out on Oct. 1.