Dispute over health payments defused, spending bill on track

Candice Alexander
April 27, 2017

Senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., support a permanent fix for the miners' benefit program, but Ryan prefers a 28-month remedy.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. winks during a news conference after a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. By subsidizing these costs, the government makes health care more affordable for many who would otherwise struggle to pay. The Obama administration appealed, but after Trump won the election previous year the case was put on hold.

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Despite the hiccups, Ryan expressed optimism that Congress would reach an agreement and avoid a government shutdown before funding expires at midnight Friday.

There appears little chance of that as lawmakers worked to resolve final stumbling blocks on issues like the environment, though a short-term extension of existing funding levels is likely.

But Mrs. Pelosi said a deal is still proving elusive. So far, none of the moderates who opposed an earlier repeal bill have publicly committed to supporting the latest version. One key moderate, GOP Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, dismissed the Freedom Caucus about-face as "a matter of blame-shifting and face-saving" for a bill going nowhere.

Odds of passage of the new bill are low, and even if it passes the House, many Senate Republicans have seen how poorly the bill polls and are unwilling to stick out their necks for an unpopular Trump.

Formally known as the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare included a provision requiring members of Congress and their staffs to buy their coverage on an Obamacare marketplace; they now get coverage through a Washington, D.C., exchange aimed at small business coverage, where they also get a significant employer contribution from the federal government.

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Leading House conservatives are saying good things about a plan to revive the GOP health care bill.

The agreement to continue the payments is the second apparent concession made by the White House, as Trump prepares to mark his 100th day in office on Saturday.

The massive spending measure, which would wrap together 11 unfinished spending bills into a single "omnibus" bill, represents the first real bipartisan legislation of Trump's presidency.

That seems unlikely, and Ryan reiterated that the House will vote when Republicans have enough support to win.

Pelosi is insisting on addressing those payments Trump threatened to cut them off as a negotiating chip.

But negotiators rejected Trump's demands for $1 billion to begin construction of his promised wall along the length of the 2,000-mile (3218.54-kilometer) U.S. -Mexico border.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and congressional Democrats on Wednesday defused a tense standoff over payments for the working poor under the health care law, keeping a massive government spending bill on track just days ahead of a shutdown deadline. Democrats won funding for medical research, Pell Grants and foreign aid.

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