Steven Culp on "The West Wing - Shutdown"
|FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS SHUT DOWN OVER BUDGET CUTS -- AND PUBLIC BLAIMES A STUBBORN BARTLET A disastrous fiscal crisis looms when the Federal government is shut down after the President engages in a war of wills between the powerful G.O.P. House Speaker (guest star Steven Culp) over an extra two percent in budget reductions that would trim many of Bartlet's key social programs -- and the Democrats are blamed because of opinion polls. As Leo, Josh and Toby send everyone home, they remain uneasy as the President refuses to compromise -- until he arrives on a bold plan to personally and publicly challenge the Republicans in the halls of the Capitol. Meanwhile, Abbey suddenly reappears from her self-imposed exile for a State dinner that she might have to cook herself.
|Read the transcript of the episode
In the Roosevelt Room, President Josiah Bartlet stands up during his meeting with the Republican leadership, led by Speaker Jeff Haffley. Haffley is the last to rise. Bartlet reiterates that he rejects the three percent reduction in the continuing resolution to fund the federal government, and Haffley informs the President that he will be responsible for shutting down the Federal Government. Bartlet replies, "Then shut it down."
Bonnie walks into Josh's office and tells Josh and Will that the meeting is over. Will thinks this is a good sign the meeting was so short, Josh is not so sure. They walk out in time to see the Republican leadership leaving. Donna informs them that there was no deal. Toby remarks that they had a deal at one percent, Will thinks they were bluffing, and Vice President Bob Russell calls Will away. Josh expects a deal before midnight. Toby walks off, and Josh follows.
Haffley and Senator Robert Royce leave the White House. Royce comments about how he hates November, while Haffley smiles, saying Christmas came early - the Speaker heads over to the press to make a statement.
Leo and the President walk into the Oval Office with Angela Blake. Leo and Angela try and pressure the President to get a continuing CR, but Bartlet says they are done for the night. Bartlet leaves, off to catch the second half of a Notre Dame game on television. Charlie informs Leo that Josh and Toby are here. Josh asks what happened, Angela relays that Haffley asked for three percent. Toby asks what happens now, and Leo responds, "We shut it down."
Leo sees Haffley on a television set talking about the shutdown, blaming the President for refusing to negotiate. Leo addresses a large group of staffers including Charlie, Margaret and Donna. Leo instructs all non-excepted employees to go home, and Donna asks how long he expects the shutdown to last. Leo guesses hours, maybe a day, but Margaret pushes him and he admits it will last "as long as it lasts".
C.J. and Toby walk by the meeting, with Carol following, and C.J. runs through the various government agencies that will be open. Toby asks C.J. to run him through the briefing, and she does so but without numbers. She requests numbers from Carol, but she says that they just sent research home, and they just sent her home. Toby promises her the numbers, but she spots Haffley addressing reporters from the front lawn. C.J. heads out to address the press, requesting the numbers quickly. Toby instructs Carol to go home. C.J. pulls Katie back into the press room and starts the briefing.
Donna is getting Josh up to speed, advising him that she had cancelled all of Josh's meetings. Josh reminds Donna that she is not a special assistant, and has to go home.
Toby walks into Leo's office, and notes that the phone is ringing because Margaret has gone home. Toby asks what the President is doing, and Leo notes he is watching basketball. Toby asks if the President has a plan. Leo notes that it was 'pretty spontaneous.' Toby asks if Leo wants him to speak to the President. Leo turns him down.
C.J. is in the press room taking questions from George, Katie and Mark, all asking why the President would risk a shutdown over a three percent cut in the federal budget. Josh is watching the briefing as Donna prepares to take work home, but doesn't have a computer. Josh offers her his computer, but thinks better of it after remembering a folder marked 'private'. Will summons Josh to the War Room. Josh says that the President is playing his hand, and Haffley is going to be a tough opponent.
Meanwhile, Haffley is working the room of Republican leadership, saying he did not expect a shutdown, but rather a negotiation to two percent. Lindsay asks if they are ready for a shutdown, but Haffley dismisses it, and decides to play hardball despite the opposition of Royce. Haffley instructs the members of the leadership to blame the shutdown on the President. Royce expects the White House to have Bob Russell call later that night.
Angela walks into the war room where Leo and Josh are talking about upcoming plans such as speeches. Leo says Angela expects a deal tonight at two percent, Josh asks if it will be available tomorrow. Josh encourages a game-plan where they call out Haffley for attempting to defund every Bartlet initiative and Leo instructs him to make sure everyone knows Bartlet expects to keep his full schedule tomorrow. Leo asks if they can downplay the situation to the press, but Toby says that's just what Haffley wants. As Will questions the President's tactics, Josh walks out of the room. C.J. passes him and walks in.
Will asks if there's any coffee, and Toby advises the mess is closed. C.J. asks for help, and Leo advises her not to brief again until the morning. Toby advises him that they can put together a strategy, but there's nothing else until there is a deal. Angela tells Leo he has to talk the President off the ledge, so she can work a deal at two percent.
Leo heads to the residence. Bartlet is watching the basketball game and Leo joins him, noting the Irish are losing. Leo advises the President that Angela is running the war room, but they don't have much support, and they expect to close at two percent. Bartlet is upset about all the concessions he's already made to Haffley, and Leo attempts to comfort him, and steer him past the CR showdown to the State of the Union address in order to get back on message. Bartlet, meanwhile, seems more interested in the basketball game. Leo tells him "It's not always enough to be right, sir."
The next morning Leo enters the White House. C.J. advises him both sides are getting hit in the public opinion polls, but the White House is getting hit worse, and the press is not happy with her. She advises him that veterans are having trouble getting their home loans, and that they cannot be fighting this over the holidays. Leo says they won't, but admits they do not have a plan.
Russell walks into Leo's office and asks if they are ready to send him to the hill. Leo turns him down, saying they cannot send mixed signals. Leo insists the President set the terms, but Russell points out that Republicans control the Congress and they set the terms. Russell becomes upset and leaves.
Toby is in the war room, where he encounters Marina who is cleaning the room. Leo enters the room and asks for an update on poll numbers. Marina asks where the dumpsters are, and the room, which includes C.J. and Will, is dumbfounded. She exits. C.J. asks about the State Dinner, and Leo says Josh is coordinating with the British, and they have another day before they have to decide. Angela walks into the room, saying she bought them one more day with the House Minority Leader, but she is threatening to cut bait, which reduces their negotiating power and increases Haffley's. Leo declares today the day, and tells them to get the temperature of the Speaker, to see if they can still get a deal at three percent. Leo wants a CR by the end of the day.
Haffley is excited to learn that the White House caved. Royce points out the President is not yet on board, but Haffley thinks that is a negotiation tactic. Royce wants to skip the CR and go straight to the budget by working with Russell. Haffley wants to use the CR as leverage on the budget, while Royce wants to get back to governing. Haffley says they are governing by doing what they told the voters they would do if they elected them.
Bartlet rejects the deal out of hand. Leo tries to convince him, but Bartlet insists on one percent. Leo reminds him the House Democrats may not stick around, but Bartlet holds firm. Leo tells him that he is putting all his chips down on a hand they cannot win, but Bartlet is clearly upset that Haffley went back on their deal.
Marina walks into Josh's office, and helps clean him up. Donna calls from a bar where a shutdown party is happening. She had faxed him over a list of shutdown facts, and Josh questions why Social Security is on the list. While it is an entitlement, Donna informs him that the employees who issue the checks have been sent home and the GAO would have to rule that they need to return to work. Donna asks when she can return to work, and Josh offers her a loan. Donna points out the irony, and Josh agrees. Josh is still waiting to be put back into the game.
Will, C.J. and Toby are discussing Josh's Social Security information over pizza. Will is nervous about the issue, while Toby insists that Josh is taking care of the problem. Leo and Angela return to the War Room, and confirm that the offer of three percent is still on the table. While Toby questions if Bartlet will accept the offer, Leo says he made a call. Glances are traded around the room. Toby and C.J. know what this means, but Will remains dumbfounded.
bbey Bartlet exits a limousine and walks into the War Room, asking "What the hell have you all been doing while I've been gone?"
President Bartlet is making himself a sandwich when Abbey walks in, surprising Bartlet in the kitchen. The President asks her where she's been, since her motorcade arrived an hour ago. She says she was in the War Room, which he was not in. Abbey asks if he lost his temper, and the President says Haffley reneged on the deal. Abbey asks him what his plan is, mentioning that her staff wants to come to him with a deal. Bartlet seems excited by the idea that Haffley came to him with a deal, but Abbey's look tells him that was not the case and Bartlet gets even more upset. She tells him that they don't know what he wants them to do, and she asks if he knows what he wants them to do. After a long pause, Jed asks if Abbey is staying through the holidays. Abbey cracks a joke, then asks him where Josh is.
Leo walks to Josh's office, and says the President wants him back in the War Room. Josh grabs his coat and follows Leo.
C.J. walks into Toby's office, asking if there is anything new. Toby tells her the new polling numbers, the White House is down another six points. C.J. asks if Josh is still going at it with Leo and Angela, and he confirms he is. C.J. asks if maybe there's something else beyond their assumption - that Bartlet is out of it following his daughter's kidnapping - behind his actions. Toby thinks that only Josh and the President don't know the Republicans are winning. C.J. suggests that Bartlet may be acting as a leader.
Inside the War Room, Josh is continuing to fight Angela, supporting the President's stance that three percent is unacceptable. Josh suggests using Royce, but Will says Royce won't take on Haffley, and Haffley already thinks he's won. Josh says that's only because they blinked, and Leo says they lost all support from Congress and the public, so what other choice did they have but to blink. Leo calls it the 'Come to Jesus' meeting.
Bartlet overhears, asking "who is coming to Jesus, Leo, me or you?" The President enters and questions the new offer - three percent for 60 days. Angela calls it a gift. Toby says that people are frustrated by both parties, and it's a plague on both houses, Leo adds it hasn't turned in their favor. The President asks for Josh's input, and Josh asks what Bartlet wants. He says he wants to govern. Angela says that they are losing the bargaining position quickly, and the Republicans are sitting in their conference room waiting for their reply. Josh suggests they go to Capitol Hill to meet with the leadership - saying America is asking for someone to step up, it should be them. Toby says this will make them look weaker, while Leo says it sets a dangerous precedent. Bartlet decides to head to the hill, and Josh grabs his coat and follows. Leo sends Angela with him.
C.J. is briefing on the White House lawn despite the cool temperatures. Josh calls her after she finishes answering questions and tells her to get back to the press and advise them of the President heading to the Hill. After a second, C.J. smiles and heads back to the press.
In the motorcade, Angela and Josh are arguing about Haffley when the President requests the car stop. He saw Kansas plates on a car and exits the vehicle. The President addresses the crowd, and Josh gets a phone call from C.J. advising him that the press is only a few seconds behind him. Josh gets an idea, and asks how long a walk it is to the Capitol. Josh says "The Secret Service is going to love this."
Josh comes up to the President, and advises him that the Capitol is just a five or ten minute walk. The President agrees with the plan and advises Secret Service Agent Andy of their plan. Angela says she should have worn different shoes. As the news coverage seems to finally turn in their favor, C.J. and Toby watch from The White House.
The President, now with an entire entourage of media, walks to Capitol hill and enters the building. Josh knocks on the door to the Republican leadership meeting. Josh announces the President's arrival, and Congressman Jaffe greets him, and tells him they are wrapping up, and asks him to wait. The President sits down on a bench and waits, as the press looks on.
Haffley thinks it's a stunt. Royce encourages them to take the meeting immediately, they shouldn't make the President wait. Congressmen Jaffe and Ramirez encourage Haffley to hear the President out, but Haffley becomes upset and and insists on a game plan. Outside, Bartlet continues to wait as the press continues to watch. Angela says they've been waiting seven minutes. She thinks it is a disaster, but Josh thinks it's great. Josh walks over to the President, and suggest they leave. Haffley has gotten the Republican leadership to agree to a three percent CR, as well as the terms for a possible budget deal, but by the time he opens the door, Bartlet is leaving the Capitol.
Two pundits are trading barbs on television, with the Republican pundit, while insisting it was a stunt, says it was a well-played stunt. Haffley says this changes nothing, and insists they hold firm on the budget negotiations, but Royce only says "you better hope so" as the Republican pundit blasts Haffley for his tactical error.
In The White House, Abbey approaches C.J. and informs her that she will be cooking the state dinner - Coronation Chicken - for just the two leadership couples. She suggests that someone from the Press Corps might want to watch her prepare the dinner. C.J. smiles and says it is good to have the First Lady back.
C.J. starts the briefing (still on the lawn) while Toby walks into the war room while Marina is again cleaning up. She asks him about how they can just write bigger checks when programs, like AmeriCorps, goes over budget. He says that's what happens when programs are successful. She asks him for a recommendation. Josh, Leo, Angela and Will walk into the War Room. Russell spoke to Royce, and says that the President and Haffley should meet one-on-one. Angela advises that Haffley will not flinch. She asks if the President is up for this, and Leo admits he doesn't know.
Leo enters the Oval Office, where Abbey and the President are talking. Abbey heads out to make dinner and Bartlet says he won't be late. Leo asks him if he's sure he wants to do it one-on-one, and the President assures him he will be fine. He thanks Leo for everything he's done over the last few months. Leo sends in Haffley.
Haffley walks into the Oval Office. Bartlet suggests they get started. Haffley wants to do another C.R. for 60 days, but Bartlet rejects that out of hand. Haffley talks about how the Oval Office was designed to put people off balance, and they trade barbs about separation of powers. Bartlet says that they haven't even begun to work on the budget, and he will reject Medicaid cuts while Haffley will reject cuts to agriculture subsidies. Haffley says that puts them back at a C.R., and that the size of the government costs people jobs.
The President reminds the Speaker that not everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and Haffley agrees, but says the solution is smaller government. They start fighting about the Department of Education, until Bartlet interrupts and says they had a deal, and he will leave the government shutdown until they reach an equitable agreement.
In the War Room, Josh, Toby, Will and Angela are waiting when Donna comes in and everyone thanks her for saving Social Security. Josh compares her to the rookie who got his first rebound the same game Wilt Chamberlain went for 55. Toby points out that Philadelphia lost that game. Leo enters and advises Haffley left.
The staff enters the Oval Office where Bartlet advises them they negotiated a budget. The Republicans didn't get the Capital Gains cut, they didn't get the Tuition Tax Credit, but they get it next year if they can make it revenue neutral. Since they had already found $50 billion in cuts, Haffley agreed to find another $50 billion among Republicans. The staff celebrates. Bartlet says that he has about five minutes before dinner, and asks "what's next?" (c) westwing.wikia.com