Well, it looks like House Republicans are back to the drawing board over what to do about the debt limit.
House Leadership has pulled the plug on proposals that would tie raising the debt ceiling to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or eliminating the so-called risk corridors in the Affordable Care Act, because neither plan could reach 218 votes, according to a House aide with knowledge of the talks.
The debt limit has been suspended through Feb. 7, and the Treasury Department estimates it can take enough extraordinary measures to last through the end of the month before risking default.
Republicans may seek other priorities in exchange for raising the debt limit, but no clear strategy has emerged.
A number of Republicans have anticipated that the House will eventually vote on a clean debt-ceiling increase. Even conservatives such as Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho are saying that’s the path forward. “I actually think we should just do a clean debt ceiling,” he told reporters this week. “Give the Democrats their vote. We don’t have to vote for it.”
Another conservative, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, echoed that sentiment: “I think at the end of the day we’re basically going to have something equivalent to a clean debt ceiling increase,” he said Tuesday. “I wish they would do something substantive, but they’re not going to, so let’s just avoid the theater and get on with it.”
The risk corridor provision of the Affordable Care Act would partially reimburse insurance companies for people who wind up costing insurers more than they paid in premiums by over 3 percent. The program is only in place for three years, beginning with this year.
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office found that the program would save the government about $8 billion.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."