Republicans are in the midst of a messy civil war between their establishment wing and the tea-party insurgents. But with President Obama’s approval ratings collapsing amid problems with his signature health care law, Democrats are starting to face their own divisions.
— President Obama v. the Clintons. It’s hard to believe Bill Clinton’s recommendation that Obama honor his health care promise was an accident. Not only did it provide cover for congressional Democrats to break with the White House, it also added to the pressure on an administration desperately trying to come up with any last-ditch administrative fix to stop the bleeding — without harming the law itself. Clinton knows how damaging the Obamacare problems could be to Senate Democrats and, if not resolved soon, that they could have a lasting impact on his wife’s (likely) presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton can’t tweak her old boss, but her husband certainly can (and has before).
— Congressional divide between red-state Democrats and Obama loyalists. We’re already seeing red-state Democrats and senators on the ballot in 2014 begin to break away from the White House. As politically palatable legislation to alter Obamacare comes through with bipartisan support, there will be a lot of pressure on others to join in (paging reliably liberal Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Ben Cardin). The White House may resist, but a veto-proof majority may soon be building to make significant changes to the law, given the current political sentiment. Despite difficult relations with Congress, Obama usually could count on party loyalty to get him through rocky patches. Not anymore.
— The party’s Hillary Clinton-Elizabeth Warren split. Clinton looks closer to a lock than anyone for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination this far out — assuming she runs. But the party’s progressive wing is already started to push Elizabeth Warren as a credible candidate. That’s unlikely. Warren, despite the buzz, isn’t a smooth campaigner. She would appeal mainly to a narrow, affluent slice of the Democratic electorate, and many of her Massachusetts Senate donors would go with Clinton. But as 2016 draws closer, Democrats may start to worry about Obama’s baggage spreading to the party’s future nominee. Expect to hear growing progressive angst to find any liberal outsider to challenge the formidable front-runner.
American political history shows that the president’s party tends to be united, while the opposition often looks leaderless, rudderless, and divided. But when the president’s approval rating sinks into dangerous territory, that formula becomes inoperative. And Obama is facing the reality that many longtime allies are now looking out more for their political survival than his legacy or the fate of his namesake law.
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.