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McConnell’s Real Legacy Now Hangs in Supreme Court’s Balance

The first high-profile oral argument of the new Supreme Court term comes Tuesday morning in a campaign finance case officially called McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Across the street, the dispute may come to be known instead as McConnell v. Donation Limits.

Mitch McConnell is guaranteed to make the news almost every day as the Senate minority leader. That’s even been true this fall, when the complexities of his squeezed-on-both-sides campaign for re-election in Kentucky have distracted him from (or prompted him to cede) his customary role as the indispensable dealmaker.

McConnell has been garnering headlines all fall as the leader who isn’t there, on issues starting with Syria and now most prominently on the government shutdown impasse, the future of Obamacare and next week’s prospective debt ceiling collision.

Read More on Roll Call: McConnell’s Real Legacy Now Hangs in Supreme Court’s Balance

Boehner Works Behind the Scenes on ‘Grand Bargain’

House Republicans continued with the piecemeal government funding approach Thursday, even as chatter turned to whether Speaker John A. Boehner could finally pull off a “grand bargain” on government spending and the debt limit.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Republican met with groups of GOP lawmakers who want to pass a clean CR to reopen the government. Boehner and the lawmakers discussed the possibility of a “grand bargain” — a new one that would raise the debt ceiling, fund the government, address the sequester and extract concessions on Obamacare.

But later Wednesday night, the speaker met with President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the White House. And the negotiations — or lack thereof — seemed to have left a sour taste in the mouth of Republicans.

Read More on Roll Call: Boehner Works Behind the Scenes on ‘Grand Bargain’

Merging Spending and Debt Debates Means Shutdown Likely to Last 2 Weeks

Signs grew clearer today that the debates about reopening the government, raising the debt limit and setting spending levels for the next year are being rolled into one. And one unspoken consequence is that the partial shutdown, now in its third day, looks increasingly likely to stay in effect for the next two weeks – until the Treasury’s deadline for either gaining more borrowing authority or defaulting.

Senior congressional Republicans and Democrats are conceding it makes little policy or political sense to put much more effort into finding votes for a continuing resolution lasting only a few weeks, when the even more consequential debt ceiling must be confronted almost immediately after.

GOP conservatives still believe they can win concessions from President Barack Obama — on both entitlement curbs and curtailing Obamacare — as part of a double-barrel bargain on both spending and borrowing. The president forcefully rebutted that expectation this morning.

“Let me be clear: There will be no more negotiating,” he told a friendly crowd assembled at construction company in suburban Rockville, Md., echoing the message he delivered last night to the four top congressional leaders during a meeting in the Oval Office that seemed only to harden the standoff in all corners. His message to the GOP, the president said: “You don’t get a reward for keeping the government running, and you don’t get a reward for keeping the economy running.”

Read More on Roll Call: Merging Spending and Debt Debates Means Shutdown Likely to Last 2 Weeks

Capitol Police: Protecting and Serving Without Pay

When gunshots rang out Thursday, hundreds of Capitol Police officers sprang into action. Yet their paycheck for the work done on the traumatic day isn’t guaranteed, thanks to the government shutdown.

Gunshots reported on Capitol Hill sent Capitol Police into swift action around 2:25 p.m. on Thursday, immediately implementing a lockdown of the complex and putting into motion hundreds of law enforcement officers to protect the Capitol.

Patrol officers joined Secret Service units and other law enforcement agencies in pursuit of a black car that appeared headed for the Capitol after attempting to breach White House security.

Read More on Roll Call: Capitol Police: Protecting and Serving Without Pay

Immigration Policy and the Inalienable Rights of ‘Non-Citizens’

California is about to embrace one of the most progressive state immigration policies in the nation. A bill expected to be signed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and legislation enacted earlier this year will expand the rights of non-citizens in ways considered unimaginable a few years ago.

These historic measures will permit certain non-citizens in California to sit on juries, monitor the polls during elections in which they may not vote and even be licensed to practice law. These sweeping changes are among many passed across the nation this year as states have begun to seriously reexamine their immigration policies in the wake of a 2012 landmark Supreme Court decision.
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