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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

The Caribou Coffee cups were stacked neatly on the U.S. Capitol steps. Two cardboard coffee pots were ready to be poured. More than a dozen reporters watched them closely. They were waiting.

A few minutes after 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the mastermind behind this bipartisan coffee summit, strode to the steps. He helped himself to a cup. Paul's office insisted that this wasn't a photo-op, but for the moment, the press were the only ones who were there. Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY), Paul's state brethren, finally showed up. A reporter inquired if Paul was expecting more people to come.

"I hope so," Paul said. "I hope this isn't going to the bipartisan summit, two Republicans from Kentucky!"

After a few minutes, some more representatives and senators -- all of them Republicans, except Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) -- did join Paul on the front steps. They chatted amiably, sometimes about the shutdown, sometimes about NASCAR. No path to reopening the federal government emerged. But the photographers snapped their shutters, anyway.

That's where we're at, three days into the shutdown.

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American exceptionalism has been in full view of the world in the last few days, but not in the way that people usually mean. Since Monday night, the U.S. government has reminded the international community that it's one of the few -- maybe the only -- that can actually shut down.

Foreign press correspondents, left trying to explain an inexplicable situation to their audiences back home, are dumbfounded. TPM talked with Washington reporters from around the world, everywhere from South Korea to Sweden to Turkey, to ask them what they thought about the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years.

Some of their takes were quite frank.

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The House passed Wednesday two partial spending bills, less than 24 hours after piecemeal measures failed to clear the chamber.

The bill to fund the National Park Service passed 252-173.

The bill to fund the National Institutes of Health passed 254-171.

Senate Democratic leaders have already said the bills won't clear that chamber, and the White House has threatened to veto them.

The House is expected to vote Thursday on bills to fund part of the Department of Veteran Affairs and the National Guard and military reserve.

The House rejected Wednesday an effort by House Democrats to put a clean temporary spending bill on the floor, closing one opportunity to re-open the federal government.

The complicated process went like this. House Republicans proposed a partial spending bill to fund the National Parks Service. House Democrats moved to replace that bill with the Senate-passed spending bill that would fund the government as a whole.

House Republican leadership rejected the motion. House Democrats appealed the rejection. House Republicans moved to block the appeal, and the House then voted 230-194, largely along party lines, to block the appeal.

If the House had allowed the appeal, there might have been a chance for the Senate spending bill to come to the floor for a vote Wednesday evening. The expectation is that the Senate bill would be approved if put up for a vote, with moderate Republicans joining Democrats to pass it, ending the government shutdown.

In a letter sent Wednesday to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) asked House Republicans to pass a temporary government spending bill and then appoint House members to negotiate with the Senate on a long-term budget.

It's Reid's rebuttal to Boehner' move Monday night, asking for negotiations over the temporary spending bill. The counteroffer is: Get the government reopened, and we'll then negotiate on government spending.

Boehner's office quickly dismissed the proposal. "Offering to negotiate only after Democrats get everything they want is not much of an offer," Boehner spokesman MIchael Steel said in a statement.

The full letter is below.

  Reid Letter to Boehner by tpmdocs

The House will consider Wednesday two additional partial funding bills -- one to pay for National Guard and other military reserve; another to fund the National Institutes of Health -- alongside the three bills that failed Tuesday night.

The House Rules Committee posted the bills Wednesday morning. Votes are expected Wednesday afternoon.

The three previous bills -- to fund part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Parks Service and the Washington, D.C., government -- failed to get the two-thirds majorities they needed to pass Tuesday night. They will be brought up again with the two new bills under procedures that require only a simply majority to pass. 

Nearly three million people have visited the federal health insurance marketplace created by Obamacare on its first day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since midnight, 2.8 million people have visited the website, which will serve consumers in more than 30 states, and 81,000 have called the marketplace's call center. Those numbers were current as of late Tuesday afternoon.

"We are certainly very pleased with the level of interest we've seen," an HHS official said in a conference call with reporters. HHS would not, however, confirm how many people had actually enrolled for coverage.

That volume had also led to long load times and other glitches, as TPM reported earlier Tuesday. HHS officials assured reporters that those issues have largely been resolved, and users were experiencing fewer problems.

"People are able to start and finish the enrollment process," an official said. Asked about one specific reported problem with creating an account on the site, the official said: "You should not have that issue now. Folks are signing up, and we're pleased."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) shot down the House GOP's latest plan to fund the federal governemnt with a piecemeal approach.

"Republicans understand finally the the government is shut down. But now they are focusing on trying to cherry pick some of the few parts of government that they like," Reid said Tuesday on the Senate floor. "They don't like it all but they like a few parts of it. It's just another wacky idea from the tea party-driven Republicans. You can tell that the tea party still wants to keep the government shut down."

Reid suggested the piecemeal bills, which the House will consider momentarily, wouldn't go anywhere in the Senate.

"If they wanted to reopen the government, they would do it by bringing the Senate's bill to their floor, let it pass with a majority vote," Redi said. "We could reopen the government in a matter of minutes if Speaker Boehner had the courage to stand up to the tea party."

Throughout the government spending drama, one of the central themes has been the insurgence of House conservatives, spurred on by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT). They've been in many ways setting the House's agenda, much to the chagrin of House leadership.

That dynamic took center-stage again Tuesday when Cruz and Lee took credit for the House's latest plan to end the government shutdown.

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Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) dismissed the House GOP's latest plan to take a piecemeal approach to funding the government.

"We're going to wait and see, obviously, what they have to offer," Durbin told reporters on Tuesday. "But that Sen. Ted Cruz is now going to pick his favorite federal agencies to reopen? Come on. Let's get serious about this. There are a lot of agencies of government that need to be open. I'd suggest opening all of them."

Before the government shut down, Cruz had urged House Republicans to pass funding bills for individual agencies if Senate Democrats refused to budge on Obamacare. On Tuesday, House GOP leadership released a plan to approve bills funding part of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the national parks system.

TPMLivewire