HUFFPOST HILL - John Boehner Waiting By The Phone; Wants To Call Obama But Afraid To In Case Obama Calls At The Same Instant

Hill staffers will work all weekend and be thanked for their dedication with a big fat shutdown furlough. "Non-essential" government workers are feeling depressed, so now more than ever Washington needs Al Franken to dust off his Stuart Smalley routine. And President Obama spoke with Hassan Rouhani about Iran's nuclear aspirations and Syria's civil war in the first top-level U.S.-Iran discussion since the 1979 revolution. Next week they'll catch up on pet rocks and the late '90s swing revival. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, September 27th, 2013:

SENATE SENDS BUDGET BACK TO HOUSE, SETTING UP WEEKEND SHOWDOWN NBC News: The fate of a possible government shutdown now rests with the House of Representatives after the Senate voted Friday to send the GOP-dominated chamber a simple extension of government spending through mid-November. After a week of bluster in the upper chamber which saw conservatives try to demand that spending for 'Obamacare' be eradicated as a condition of avoiding a government shutdown, senators voted on a bipartisan basis to reject that ploy, and bring debate to a close. The end result was that Democrats in the Senate were able to strip a provision to defund Obamacare from legislation to fund the government, which was passed a week earlier by the Republican-controlled House...As the Senate concluded the debate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urged his Republican colleagues in the House: "Defy the anarchists, respect the rule of law, and help the Senate govern.' The Senate voted 54 to 44 along party lines to ultimately approve a 'clean' continuing resolution, which does nothing more than to preserve funding at existing levels through Nov. 15. " [NBC News]

@DavidNakamura: Boehner's office: The "president has not called the speaker this week."

OBAMA SPEAKS WITH IRANIAN PRESIDENT - Luke Johnson: "President Barack Obama said Friday that he spoke by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The call is the first communication between the leaders of the two countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The call comes after U.S. officials said earlier this week that the two would not meet at the U.N. General Assembly. The officials said that a meeting would be too 'complicated' for the Iranians given the country's internal politics. 'The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran's nuclear program,' said Obama. 'I reiterated to President Rouhani what I said in New York: while there were surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution.' 'Resolving this issue could serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect,' he said." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Jason Greenslate, the lazy surfer Fox News says is a perfect example of America's food stamp recipients, has declared he's running for mayor of San Diego. "All of Greenslate's haters want him to get a 'real' job so here is his chance," says a press release from one of Greenslate's bandmates. "Elect Jason 'the Dragon' Greenslate for mayor and it's a win win. Greenslate will have a job and won't qualify for the food stamps that's stirring up hate across the nation and the people of San Diego will have a 100% local, native San Diegan Mayor who actually works FOR THE PEOPLE."

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TED CRUZ LOBBYING HOUSE MEMBERS OVER OBAMACARE - It's moments like this when we really wish CSPAN had a confessional room where lawmakers could vent about each other's cattiness. With Jen Bendery: "Ted Cruz is not content to drive Senate strategy on the budget and debt ceiling showdown. The Texas Republican senator is working with House Republicans to undermine Speaker John Boehner's various approaches to dealing with Senate Democrats and the White House, as first reported by National Review Online. Cruz told reporters in response to the story Friday that he has had "numerous conversations with numerous members" in the House, but he wouldn't go into specifics. He ignored questions about whether he's been pressing House Republicans to go around their leadership and engage in a protracted fight over the government funding bill, even suggesting that there's no point in guessing what the House will do next. 'At this point, I don't think it makes sense to speculate on the possible bill the House might pass,' Cruz said before slipping into an elevator. A GOP leadership aide told HuffPost that Cruz's work against Boehner is familiar to them." Boehner had hoped to find an exit path from the budget showdown, which could lead to a government shutdown by Tuesday, by focusing attention instead on the debt limit, which the government will hit later next month. Cruz advised Republicans to reject such an approach; he and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told the tea party stalwarts that they would back them up in the Senate." [HuffPost]

A new poll finds the guy willing to shut down the entire government himself is more trusted by Republicans than most of his colleagues. That's...telling. Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Republican voters trust Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) more than they do some of their top party leaders, according to a survey released Friday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Fifty-one percent said they trusted Cruz over House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), while just 20 percent trusted Boehner more. Similarly, 49 percent trusted Cruz over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), compared to 13 percent who had more faith in McConnell." [HuffPost's ]

Behold John Boehner's worst nightmare (after cigarette taxes, of course): "Cruz could possibly do more than simply advise House Republicans; he could lead them. While every speaker of the House has been a member of that chamber, the U.S. Constitution is actually not explicit that it has to be that way: "The House of Representatives shall chuse [sic] their Speaker and other Officers." If House conservatives did decide to choose Cruz, it certainly would set up an interesting constitutional fight. Democrats were already playing up this possibility on Friday, with the super PAC American Bridge directing the website SpeakerCruz.com to the National Review's story." [HuffPost]

Mitt Romney took a break from watching his DNA overtake the country's genepool to weigh in: "Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Friday that he disagreed with the House tactics to try to tie the Affordable Care Act to passing the continuing resolution to fund the government, which expires at the end of the month. 'We're more effective tactically not to use a shutdown of some kind to pursue the ... anti-Obamacare objective. I don't think that will be as effective,' Romney said, as quoted by CNN. He added that he preferred a one-year delay to the individual mandate or getting more House and Senate Republicans elected to repeal the law, though he also gave Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) credit for his 'quasi filibuster.'" [HuffPost's Luke Johnson]

TED CRUZ GLOWINGLY REFERENCES GUY WHO LOVES OBAMACARE - Maybe the junior senator from Texas should stick to single moms working in diners. Sam Stein: "During his 21-hour talkfest on the Senate floor earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) went through a litany of examples that he said highlighted the abject failures of President Barack Obama's policies. One of them involved the case of John Connelly, a Rutgers student who found himself in debt, without a permanent job, and forced to sleep on his friend's couch. His story was one that was all too common in the age of Obama, Cruz concluded. Well, it turns out that Connelly isn't the biggest fan of Cruz. What's more, he is actually a beneficiary of the very health care law that Cruz was protesting during his speech. And in an appearance on MSNBC Friday morning, Connelly explained just how ironic it was that the senator would use his story to bludgeon the president and the Affordable Care Act." [HuffPost]

JUDGE ORDERS GAY MARRIAGE IN NEW JERSEY - God how great would it be if Chris Christie started walking around in a "One Man, One Woman" fleece? NYT: "A New Jersey judge ruled on Friday that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, finding that failing to do so deprives them of rights that are now guaranteed by the federal government following a ruling by the Supreme Court in June. It is the first time a court has struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage as a direct result of the Supreme Court's ruling, and it comes as Gov. Chris Christie continues to oppose allowing gay marriage in the state. His administration may appeal. 'The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,' wrote the judge, Mary C. Jacobson of State Superior Court in Mercer County. 'Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution.'' [NYT]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a corgi wearing a bear costume

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES BEING GIVEN STUART SMALLEY TREATMENT - Amanda Terkel: "The possibility of a government shutdown is dividing the federal workforce into two categories: the haves and the have-nots, or in bureaucratic speak, the essentials and the nonessentials. The first group will be able to work and get paid during a shutdown, whereas the second will be out of luck. 'Psychologically, that's pretty tough to take. You tell me the work I do is important, but I'm being classified as nonessential. There's a cognitive dissonance there,' said Defense Department policy director Christel Fonzo-Eberhard. She has been working to keep up the morale of her employees, who were furloughed under sequestration and have gone without raises, and now may lose pay under a shutdown. Agency heads have been trying to address this depression, assuring their 'nonessential' employees that their work is still important. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sent employees a memo on Thursday, saying that while military employees will be able to work during a shutdown, a "large number" of civilian employees will be temporarily furloughed. 'Importantly, the categorization of employees and whether or not someone is furloughed is not a reflection on the quality of their work, nor of their importance to our agency,' Carter wrote. 'It is merely a reflection of the legal requirements that we must operate under should a lapse occur.'" [HuffPost]


- Justin Bieber appeared on Zach Galifianakis' "Between Two Ferns." [http://bit.ly/15A2nzz]

- A wallet makes Monty Python noises when opened. [http://bit.ly/19G8YWa]

- The long form piece about Eiffel 65's "Blue" that you didn't know you wanted to devote 20 minutes to. [http://bit.ly/18rTlmQ]

- Mariano Rivera, the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball, played his final game last night. Watch his emotional farewell. [http://bit.ly/16OSDfF]

- The Adorable Care Act features cute animals telling you about Obamacare. [http://nydn.us/1bIR35T]

- Seven cleaning tips to make you feel like less of a total mess. [http://bit.ly/16G3CXI]

- And finally, here's a koala baby with bandages on its paws. Happy weekend, everyone. [http://huff.to/1dMYqYb]



@ryanbeckwith: Catfish noodling still OK. RT @eliotnelson: But he wants our guns MT @samsteinhp: Obama just declared National Hunting and Fishing Day

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