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Members Question: Is Shutdown Fundraising Worth It?

The government has shut down, but Charlie Palmer, Johnny’s Half-Shell, The Monocle and many other local congressional fundraising haunts aren’t closed.

For some members, they might as well be.

When the government shut down last week, many members rushed to cancel long-planned events at restaurants, spas and shooting ranges. Without an edict from party leaders, members must decide individually whether it’s kosher to bring in bucks during the spending impasse.

So far, vulnerable members have rationalized that the optics of walking into a mega-donor event isn’t worth the cash.

“It’s just a moral decision that each person is making on their own,” said vulnerable Rep.Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz. “We’ve got people out of work. There’s still high unemployment in my district. This is not the time to be raising money.”

Read More on Roll Call: Members Question: Is Shutdown Fundraising Worth It?

Republicans Refocus From Obamacare to Spending

As the GOP searches for a way to save face with conservatives, climb out of the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, senior House Republicans are hoping to shift the focus from Obamacare to spending.

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed from Rep. Paul D. Ryan titled “Here’s How We Can End This Stalemate,” and noticeably absent was the one word that prompted the shutdown chess match: Obamacare.

The Wisconsin Republican is advocating broad, long-term cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, calling those mandatory spending programs “the nation’s biggest challenge.”

He isn’t alone in that thought. Many senior Republicans have long felt the party would be better off fighting for a spending and entitlement overhaul than for a delay or repeal of parts of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Read More on Roll Call: Republicans Refocus From Obamacare to Spending

GOP Skeptical of Combining Debt Limit and CR Fights

House Republicans head into their Tuesday conference meeting divided over whether their leaders should attempt to keep the question of reopening the government and raising the debt limit separate.

While next week’s deadline to increase the debt ceiling would seem to force the two issues together, many Republicans say they fail to see how Republicans gain greater negotiating leverage by lumping the two issues together — and that could mean the government shutdown could stretch past the debt limit deadline of Oct. 17, regardless of whether Congress resolves the debt issue.

Others say the timeline has forced the House Republicans hand on both.

“Time has collided them,” said one GOP lawmaker who spoke on background.

Read More: GOP Skeptical of Combining Debt Limit and CR Fights

Will a Sidecar Help Avert Debt Limit Disaster?

With both Speaker John A. Boehner and President Barack Obama stuck in their corners on reopening the government, the dispute over the debt ceiling has taken center stage.

As it becomes increasingly clear that the two issues will be intertwined, the question turns to how long Obama can maintain a no-negotiation stance and whether Boehner can ultimately convince his restive caucus to vote for anything the president might sign that would avoid a default.

The White House opened the door to signing a short-term debt limit hike Monday — and didn’t immediately dismiss the idea of allowing legislative sidecars provided they aren’t a “concession” to the GOP.

Read More: Will a Sidecar Help Avert Debt Limit Disaster?

House Special Election Next Week Likely to Diversify Mass. Delegation

A special primary in Massachusetts next week will likely add diversity to the state’s congressional delegation — part of a larger shift in Bay State politics over the past few years.

On Oct. 15, a handful of top Democratic candidates will run in the definitive special primary for the open 5th District. The suburban Boston district is a strong Democratic seat and the nominee will likely take the House seat that Sen. Edward J. Markey held for decades.

Two of the top candidates are women, one is of Armenian descent, and another is openly gay. The winner could continue an evolution for the Bay State — historically one of the least diverse congressional delegations, especially for a traditionally liberal state. Since 1789, the state has only elected five women to Congress — two in the past five years — and has only had two black members, according to the House historian.

Local Democratic operatives characterized two female candidates — state Sens. Katherine Clark and Karen Spilka — as part of a trio of front-runners. But any one of the five candidates could win the low-turnout contest.

Read More: House Special Election Next Week Likely to Diversify Mass. Delegation