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Daniel Strauss

Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper's Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Daniel

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) got into a heated exchange with a National Park Service Ranger at the World War II Memorial over the closure of the park because of the government shutdown.

Neugebauer, one of a number of Republicans who have tried to use the closed memorial to bash the Obama administration and Democrats on the shutdown, confronted the ranger while surrounded by a crowd of onlookers.

Neugebauer asked the Ranger how she could turn World War II veterans away.

"How do you look at them and…deny them access?" the congressman asked.

"It's difficult," she responded.

"Well, it should be difficult," Neugebauer snapped.

"It is difficult," the Ranger said. "I'm sorry sir."

"The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves," Neugebauer said.

"I'm not ashamed," the Ranger said.

Members of the crowd then chimed in. One person shouted "This woman is doing her job, just like me."

"I'm a 30-year federal veteran -- I'm out of work," the man continued.

"Well, the reason you are is because [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid decided to shutdown the government," Neugebauer said.

"No, it's because the government won't do its job and pass a budget," the man responded.

Watch the video below:

Republican Congressman Marlin Stutzman (IN) walked back remarks saying that Republicans "have to get something" out of the government shutdown impasse even though they "don't know what that even is."

On Thursday, Stutzman released a statement saying he misspoke.

"Yesterday, I carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate and Speaker Boehner’s work on behalf of the American people," Stutzman said in a statement. "Despite my remarks it’s clear that the American people want both parties to come to the table to reopen the government, tackle this nation’s debt crisis, and stop ObamaCare’s pain."

A day earlier, the Washington Examiner reported Stutzman saying "We're not going to be disrespected."

"We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is," Stutzman said.

President Barack Obama repeatedly called out Stutzman's remarks at a speech in Maryland on Thursday.

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) received a healthcare policy grilling from MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Obamacare during an interview on Thursday morning.

In the exchange the congressman from Arkansas said Obamacare was passed just "with Democratic votes."

"No, actually it was a Chuck Grassley Republican amendment," Todd quickly shot back, referring to Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) amendment that essentially requires members of Congress and their staffs to use the Obamacare exchanges to get health insurance.

"It was drafted by Harry Reid's staff," Cotton said in response. "It was designed to ensure Congress had to eat their own cookie and understand what it was like. They have to go in and they realize that the websites are not ready and there is no privacy protections and they have less access to doctors. Democrats are refusing to take back the exemption that the Obamacare gave them. They had a simple choice. They can keep the government open and keep the special deal. That's not right, Chuck."

Todd bristled at that too.

"You keep describing it as a special deal," Todd then said. Cotton has argued that the Obamacare provision that offers healthcare subsidies to members of Congress is against the law.

"It's a special deal if you did it your way," Todd continued. "You would be taking away something else that people have, but if you work for the federal government because you work for a politician, you can't have that deal."

In response, Cotton said Congress should be able to go into the exchanges like everyone else.

"Chuck, the Obamacare law was clear," Cotton said. "Congress should go into the exchanges to experience what it's like to live in the exchanges. If the special deal goes forward, Congress will be the only people in America come January one who have an employer contribution to the health insurance. The staffers have access any way. Do they make less than 400 percent of the poverty line? If they make more than that, they have to bear the full cost of healing insurance."

Todd was puzzled at that response as well.

"You think think the federal government should dump everyone into exchanges? That's what you are saying. They have employer-based healthcare systems," Todd said in response "They have an employer-based benefit. The point is for people that did not have health care benefits."

 

     

The monuments in Washington, D.C. -- and particularly the World War II memorial -- have become a symbol for the right to decry the government shutdown, even labeling the National Park Service shutdown "shock troops" designed to toss veterans out at will as they approach the memorial.

On Tuesday, Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-MS) reportedly opened the barricade of the World War II Memorial to let a group of veterans in. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) helped by "distract(ing) a police officer" to sneak the veterans in, according to a reporter on the scene. Even outgoing tea partier Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) made an appearance.

"President Obama is so fixated on forcing Obamacare on the American people that he's even willing to deny World War II veterans the right to access the memorial they have earned through their heroic service," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Republicans say President Barack Obama has been so obsessed with pushing a governmental shutdown that he's refusing to allow anyone into the national parks and monuments (even though the National Park Service said on Wednesday that veterans would be allowed to visit the World War II memorial).

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The Republican waging a primary challenge against Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) reported a significant fundraising haul for the third quarter.

Michigan attorney David Trott said he raised $425,000 in his campaign against Bentivolio, Roll Call reported on Wednesday. The announcement comes a few weeks before the 3rd quarter fundraising deadline on Oct. 15.

The announcement is particularly notable given that Bentivolio has had lackluster fundraising numbers over the last few quarters. Bentivolio caught national attention in August for saying it would be a "dream come true" to impeach President Barack Obama.

Trott announced his campaign for Bentivolio's seat in early September. 

Additional reporting by Dylan Scott

House Republicans on Tuesday evening failed to muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass a series of three partial government finding bills.

The three bills -- to fund veterans benefits, national parks and the District of Columbia -- were designed to increase pressure on Senate Democrats to resolve the government shutdown by making them take politically uncomfortable votes against funding popular government services.

The failure of the three bills -- a key portion of the House GOP's government shutdown strategy that emerged earlier in the day Tuesday -- adds additional uncertainty to a way out of the current impasse.

The vote on the veterans affairs bill was 264 to 164, on the District of Columbia bill was 265 to 163, and on the national parks and museums bill was 252 to 176. All three proposals needed a two thirds majority of the chamber to pass.

The failure of the three measures is an ironic twist in Congress's struggle with funding the government. The votes were designed as a trap for Democrats. House Republicans decided in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday afternoon that they would try to fund the government through piecemeal continuing resolutions.

After the vote, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told TPM that House GOP leadership knew the bills were going to fail.

"We were told that that's what they were going to do," Cantor said. "To employ some sort of scorched-earth strategy."

A House Democratic aide told TPM that their side believes Republicans took the unusual procedural route because otherwise Democrats would have had a chance to put a clean spending bill on the floor, which they believe would pass. House leadership has refused to put a clean bill on the floor.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told TPM that the House would bring the legislation up Wednesday under regular order, which would only require a majority vote.

It's likely to pass then, but it isn't going anywhere. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) has already rejected a piecemeal approach to funding the government, and the White House has threatened to veto any piecemeal legislation.

Another House Democratic aide told TPM that Tuesday's vote and the one coming Wednesday are therefore effectively stall tactics.

"They clearly know this isn’t going anywhere," the aide said after the vote. "This was solely a face-saving measure because the American people are blaming them for shutting down the government."

Cantor took the opportunity to blast House Democrats for blocking the votes in his comments to TPM.

"The people who are suffering right now don't really care about those kinds of games," he said. "What we're trying to do is answer the problems where we can agree. I think most people would expect if you have disagreements, set them aside, and do those which you can agree on."

The failure of the three resolutions are also a defeat for Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), who took credit for the plan earlier on Tuesday, shortly after the House GOP announced that it was moving forward with the proposals.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Lee said he wanted Congress to fund certain parts of the federal government but not Obamacare.

"My plan, in other words, would involve setting up segmented continuing resolutions, appropriations measures that would keep the funding going at current levels to various areas with government," Lee said during the speech. Let's leave Obamacare for another day and not hold the vast majority of government functions hostage when the vast majority of government functions don't have anything to do with the implementation of Obamacare."

Similarly, Cruz's office said the votes were rooted in an idea Cruz suggested days earlier. 

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said at a press conference on Tuesday she expects the tea party wing of the Republican Party to to get blamed for the government shutdown.

Landrieu specifically cited Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has been the single biggest cheerleader in urging Republicans to go to risk a government shutdown to push Democrats to vote to defund the Obama administration's health care law. The senator from Louisiana was asked how she expected the shutdown to affect the Senate race for her seat. She is running for re-election against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

"Well it's not about being happy for my race," Landrieu told TPM on Tuesday. "But I don't think the whole Republican party is going to be blamed, I think the tea party is going to take it on the chin and frankly if Cruz is their representative, they deserve it."

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A trio of same-sex couples are suing West Virginia in order to strike down the state's gay marriage ban as unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was announced by Fairness West Virginia and Lambda Legal on Tuesday morning, according to Buzzfeed.

"Jane and I have been together for 16 years," Nancy Michael, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said referring to her partner, Jane Fenton. "We live and work together, and we are raising our son, Drew, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but we worry all the time that it isn't' enough. We need the protection that marriage affords."

You can read the complaint here

The lawsuit is the latest example of a host of lawsuits filed against states since the Supreme Court ruled that a federal ban on recognizing same-sex couples was unconstitutional. In Illinois, a week earlier, a county judge ruled that a lawsuit against the state's marriage ban there could move forward.

The federal shutdown is hitting the political fundraising world as well.

As the shutdown loomed closer, fundraisers held conference calls to consider whether to reschedule or cancel fundraising events, according to Politico.

On Monday, National Republican Congressional Committee Deputy Political Action Committee Director Krista Madaio postponed a fundraising reception with staff and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Politico also reported that Republican fundraisers are also were forced to reconsider events scheduled for Monday in light of the shutdown as it became increasingly clear that Congress would not pass a continuing resolution.

But as of Monday, when Politico ran its story, it was not clear whether the Democratic and Republican campaign committees in the House and Senate would have a similar response to the shutdown.

Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-NY) said that he had not been thinking beyond midnight on Monday concerning when to advise lawmakers on advising them when and how they should fundraise. 

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