If the government shutdown has an adverse impact on Republicans’ efforts at retaking the Senate, one race where the impact would be felt is Montana. Democrats landed an untested but potentially compelling recruit in Lt. Gov. John Walsh, a military veteran and fourth-generation Montanan.
— Montana amounts to a must-win for Republicans, and when former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) passed on the race, many thought the race was in the bag for them. But the state has been inhospitable for GOP Senate candidates lately, with Democrats winning 19 of the last 23 races. And on paper, the likely matchup against Rep. Steve Daines (R) provides some opportunities for Dems.
— Dems plan to portray Daines as a Washington insider responsible for the Washington gridlock. They view Daines, like Rick Berg last year in neighboring North Dakota, as a weaker candidate than his resume indicates. Daines spent most of his career outside politics as a businessman, but the Congressional label is toxic these days.
— Across the board, the GOP underperformed in Montana last year. Mitt Romney won 55% of the vote, but MT GOV nominee Rick Hill (R) ran 8 points behind, and MT SEN nominee, then-Rep. Denny Rehberg, only carried 45%. Even Daines won just 53% for the open seat. This despite running against the president and his unpopular health care law.
In a libertarian state skeptical of government, Republicans should be able to exploit Obama’s weaknesses on the economy, spending and health care. But with the GOP’s image so poor and a spotty track record in Montana, that’s far from a guarantee.
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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.