Shutdown Watch: Kick the can down the road for one week


You can keep your plans for this weekend. House will not vote on Affordable Care Act rewrite, smoothing way for government to stay open:

Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they didn’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and would not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday.

A late push to act on health care had threatened the bipartisan deal to keep the government open for one week while lawmakers crafted a longer-term spending deal. Now, members are likely to approve the short-term spending bill when it comes to the floor and keep the government open past midnight on Friday.

And there it is. House passes spending deal to keep the federal government open another week:

A short-term spending agreement to keep the federal government open for another week passed the House of Representatives on Friday.

The Senate is expected to pass the short-term deal later Friday and House and Senate negotiators are set to work through the weekend to finalize a longer-term deal that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September.

Top staff and leaders on the appropriations committees worked late into the night on Thursday to reach an agreement but were unable to resolve differences on several unrelated policy measures that have plagued the process since the beginning, according to several congressional aides familiar with the talks.

“We’re willing to extend things for a little bit more time in hopes that the same sort of progress can be made,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday morning.

A late push to act on new health-care legislation had threatened the bipartisan spending deal and for now that debate remains in flux.

Leaving a 90-minute meeting in the office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) late Thursday night, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said there would be no health-care vote Friday and that the main focus of the impromptu huddle was to ensure that the leadership had the votes to pass the one-week funding bill.

“We are not voting on health-care tomorrow,” McCarthy said, denying that leaders had ever wanted to vote by Friday.

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On Friday morning, House GOP leaders were closing in on the votes needed to pass a health overhaul, but no vote is expected in the coming days, according to a senior House GOP aide who was not authorized to speak publicly about ongoing discussions.

The failure to revive the health-care bill was yet another blow to President Trump as he nears the 100-day mark on Friday. While congressional leaders in both parties focused this week on keeping the government open, Trump, Vice President Pence and other top administration officials launched dual attempts to pressure Republican lawmakers into a new agreement to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

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[T]he stalled talks demonstrated yet again how divided Republicans remain about how to overhaul Obamacare, despite seven years of GOP promises to repeal and replace the 2010 law. Conservatives and moderates have repeatedly clashed over the contours of such a revamp, most sharply over bringing down insurance premiums in exchange for limiting the kind of coverage that is required to be offered.

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As many as 15 or so House Republicans have said that they will not support the latest GOP proposal. That leaves Ryan and the White House an incredibly narrow path for passage. The speaker can lose only 22 Republicans on a health-care vote because Democrats have fiercely opposed any attempt to repeal the current health care law.

This week’s spending standoff is the first in what could be several budget battles between Congress and the White House this year. Trump has called for massive hikes to defense spending and harsh cuts to domestic agencies in his 2018 budget, a proposal that many Republicans have rejected out of hand. He is also likely to revive calls for money to begin constructing the border wall — which by some estimates would cost as much as $21 billion — in future budget negotiations.

Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were forced to negotiate with Democrats on the budget after it became clear that Republicans lacked enough votes to pass a long-term spending bill on their own. As a result, the GOP leaders have had the uncomfortable task of writing a measure that ignores nearly all of Trump’s priorities, including money for the border wall.

Democrats won round one. Round two starts next week. Remember, evil never rests. Neither should the resistance.

UPDATE: Joan McCarter makes an important point at Daily Kos. House Democrats ride to rescue to keep government open after Republican fail to govern … again:

[The vote was] 382 to 30, with 207 Republican votes and 175 Democratic votes, meaning the Democrats were necessary to keep this government afloat. Again. That’s despite the declaration by Republican leadership that they would have the votes to do it all on their own. After holding the vote open for nearly an hour, they gave up on getting those last 15 Republicans on board and gaveled the vote. Some governing party this is.

It’s significant because it means that House Speaker Paul Ryan—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—are going to need Democratic votes for the long-term spending bill.

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Between this Republican unity failure and the third Zombie Trumpcare fail last night, when Ryan failed to get enough of his members on board to even bring the bill to the floor, it’s becoming clear that this is not a governing party. His efforts so far on behalf of popular vote loser Donald Trump seem to be succeeding only in driving deeper wedges in his already fractious party.

Intersting times that we live in.