Shorter Question Everything
• Call a vote. See what happens: President Obama challenges Speaker Boehner: “‘My very strong suspicion is there are enough votes there’ to pass the government funding legislation, he said during an unannounced stop at FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. ‘Hold a vote. Call a vote right now. Let’s see what happens.’”
• A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning: Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan. Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups. It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government. To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.
• Exclusive Gyms For Members Of Congress Deemed ‘Essential,’ Remain Open During Shutdown: Head Start programs have been shuttered, small businesses can’t get loans and hundreds of thousands of federal government employees are furloughed. But the exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress have remained open throughout the shutdown. A House aide confirmed to ThinkProgress that the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs. While towel service is unavailable, taxpayers remain on the hook for cleaning and maintenance, which has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. There are also costs associated with the power required to heat the pools and keep the lights on. According to the aide, the decision to keep the gym open — even while other critical government services were shelved — came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed.
• Doug Ford backtracks on claim he knew police were following family by plane, blames media instead: As questions mount over why police are investigating the city’s mayor, Rob Ford’s brother on Monday said he was “mistaken” to have suggested police were conducting aerial surveillance on the family home in Etobicoke. While Mayor Ford has yet to address revelations that he and his associates are the targets of a Toronto police investigation, Councillor Ford last week substantiated reports that a Cessna aircraft was used to track the mayor, telling the Toronto Sun he saw the plane over his mother’s home for five straight days in August. He said he “gave them the finger” and later called police, who told him the plane was related to an airport bust, but he did not believe them. “You know when a plane is surveilling you,” Councillor Ford told the Sun. Contacted by the National Post on Monday, however, the councillor backtracked from his earlier remarks. “I was mistaken. I’m not too sure who it was [in the plane], to be frank with you,” Councillor Ford said. Asked why he was rejecting the police surveillance premise when he seemed so sure just days earlier, the councillor responded: “I’m just not sold on it. I don’t care who it was or what it was and that’s my comment. I believe it could have been the media for all I know.”
• Media coalition launches application to overrule decision barring access to Project Traveller warrants: A media coalition fighting to publicize search-warrant documents filed in this summer’s Project Traveller guns-and-gangs sweep — which allegedly had links to Mayor Rob Ford — launched an application Monday to overrule a previous court decision barring access to swaths of relevant material. An Ontario judge sided with the Crown last month in ruling that large portions of the documents must be redacted under s. 193 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits public dissemination of wiretap evidence. Lawyers for the media coalition had argued the material should be released because of an exemption allowing dissemination of evidence presented in a judicial proceeding.
• Drugs in return for mayor’s phone?: Mayor Rob Ford’s friend and occasional driver Alexander Lisi’s alleged attempt to swap drugs in exchange for a stolen cellphone helped start a drug trafficking investigation, according to a report from the Toronto Star. The newspaper says that event launched Project Brazen 2, a division the guns and gangs investigation labelled Project Traveller which lead to numerous arrests in June. The Star says Lisi initially caught the attention of police back in March when he offered marijuana in exchange for the phone. It is not known if the phone was recovered. Although it has not been confirmed who the missing cellphone belonged to, the Star reports that the mayor’s phone went missing around the same time. Star sources say the mayor did get his phone back.
In other news
• US Navy commander sacked in widening bribery scandal: A US naval commander has been sacked over his alleged links to an elaborate bribery scandal that involved prostitutes, luxury travel and multimillion-dollar government contracts, officials said Friday. Captain Daniel Dusek, commanding officer of the USS Bonhomme Richard based at the port of Sasebo, Japan, was relieved of his duties “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” the Navy said in a statement.
• US credits Syria’s Assad over chemical arms destruction: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could take “credit” for swiftly moving to eliminate his regime’s chemical arms, top US diplomat John Kerry said Monday, after UN experts began destroying Syria’s missile warheads and aerial bombs. The operation, performed by Syrian personnel under the supervision of international disarmament experts, took place under the terms of a UN Security Council resolution that will see Damascus relinquish the banned arms.