By Patrick Reis and Dustin Volz
TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: It's fiscal chaos at home and violence abroad Monday, as the Senate looks at legislation to forestall a government shutdown before Oct. 1 (next Tuesday). Meanwhile, the horror continues in Kenya: 62 people are dead, and the terrorist group involved—Somalia-based Al Shabaab—is claiming three of the attackers are American-born. Elsewhere, the White House announced John Kerry will meet with Iran's foreign minister, setting up the highest level diplomatic meeting between the two countries since 1979. And finally, big news from BlackBerry, as the beleaguered manufacturer of not-all-that-smart phones was pulled back from the brink of oblivion by an investors' group that will pay $4.7 billion to buy the company and take it private.
STATE OF PLAY IN THE SENATE: Harry Reid is trying to pass a budget extension that keeps Obamacare funded while Ted Cruz prepares an all-out blitz to stop him. Reid's prospects for success hinge on a cloture vote—set to come later this week—where he will attempt to get 60 Senators to close debate and move the bill forward. Cruz and Utah's Mike Lee, meanwhile, are demanding that any attempt to remove the defunding language from the budget extension be subject to a 60-vote threshold. If they don't get their wish, the Tea Party Pair are warning their fellow Republicans that a vote for a cloture is "a vote for Obamacare," a warning to colleagues that the Tea Party will not support, and not forgive, any GOP compromises that keep Obamacare funded. Politico's Burgess Everett has more.
ACROSS THE HILL: The House is out until Wednesday.
THE CLOCK IS TICKING: Absent Congressional action, the government shuts down a week from Tuesday. Here's your Congressional forecast for next 8 days, via WaPo's Paul Kane.
MILITARY CLAIMS UPPER HAND IN KENYAN MALL STANDOFF: Kenyan officials said their military was "closing in" on Islamists holding hostages captive in a Nairobi mall since Saturday. The terrorist attack by al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliated group, has killed more than 60 people so far (Bigg/Lough, Reuters). "Like other terrorist organizations, al-Shabab has targeted young, dissatisfied men who have not integrated well into Western life." (Matt Berman, NJ)
KERRY, TOP IRAN OFFICIAL TO MEET AT U.N.: "Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet Thursday with Secretary of State John Kerry and representative of five other world powers, in what will be the highest-level face-to-face meeting between diplomats from Tehran and Washington since the 1979 Iranian revolution." (Paul Richter, LA Times)
BLACKBERRY SOLD FOR $4.7 BILLION: "After a last-ditch effort to stay competitive in the smartphone market failed, Blackberry said Monday that it struck a preliminary deal in which a group led by a former board member will take the company private for about $4.7 billion." (Will Connors, WSJ)
MITCH McCONNELL'S BIG BREAK: Kentucky's 2014 Senate race got more complicated Monday, as Democrat Ed Marksberry dropped out of his party's primary and announced plans to run as an independent. Marksberry is planning to run to the left of Democratic front-runner Alison Lundergan, creating a headache for the Democrat as she tries to claim enough of the political middle to challenge incumbent Mitch McConnell. (Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Public Radio)
McConnell, meanwhile, is taking a hands-off approach to Congress' budget battle, as the majority leader is reticent to take on any new political baggage ahead of the election. (Weisman/Peters, NYT)
LERNER OUT IMMEDIATELY AT IRS: "Embattled IRS official Lois Lerner is retiring from the agency effective Monday," according to two congressional aides. (Lauren French, Politico)
Syria: Assad says inspectors will have access, but warns of rebel interference (Aji/Karam, AP).
Egypt: "An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood and the confiscation of its assets" (Maggie Michael, AP).
Wall Street: Bank of America on trial this week on mortgage fraud charges (Nate Raymond, Reuters)
Obamacare: Lower premiums under Obamacare are possible in part due to fewer choices of doctors and hospitals. (Robert Pear, NYT)
New York Mayor's Socialist Inspiration: Before Bill de Blasio was New York's new savior, he was a young leftist and admirer of Nicaragua's Sandinista party. (Javier Hernandez, NYT)
Merkel Wins in Germany: The chancellor will return for a third four-year term in a "surprising show of strength" for her and her party. (Alison Smale, NYT)
Janet Yellen set to bring tougher tone: The favorite to become the next Fed chief would bring a "demanding and harder-driving leadership style to the central bank" than seen during Ben Bernanke's tenure. (Jon Hilsenrath, WSJ)
The Cult of Putin: The Russian president has his fans here—who see him as the very epitome of macho manliness. (Marin Cogan, NJ)