KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Government Shutdown Increasingly Likely; Health Law Continues To Be Flashpoint

The Senate is expected to approve on Friday a continuing resolution that provides funding to keep the federal government operating but strips out language passed by the House that would defund the health law. This move will set up heightened conflict with the House, where some conservative Republicans are standing firm in their pledge to oppose any measure that does not further their goal of dismantling Obamacare. In the background, the countdown to a government shutdown continues.  

The New York Times: Senate Is Expected To Approve Budget Bill
The Senate will conclude one of its more unpredictable — and stranger — weeks on Friday when it is expected to approve a bill to finance the federal government, including the health care law that Republicans have been trying to kill (Peters, 9/27).

Politico: Dems: No Obamacare Concessions
There will be no concessions from the Senate on Obamacare to avoid a government shutdown, Democratic leaders said Thursday afternoon. The Democratic leadership team said time and again Thursday that they will only accept a clean continuing resolution, which is precisely what the Senate is set to send back to the House by Saturday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will strip out Obamacare defunding language passed by the House last week and send the bill back to the House no later than Saturday, though senators are seeking to move even more quickly but have yet to break through on an expedited time agreement (Everett, 9/26).

The Wall Street Journal: No Clear Path To Avoid Shutdown As House GOP Stands Firm
The Senate is expected to pass a bill Friday that would fund the government for the first 1½ months of the new fiscal year. But Senate Democrats plan to restore money for the Affordable Care Act that House Republicans had stripped out, leaving the two chambers in conflict (Hook and Peterson, 9/26).

The Washington Post: Shutdown Grows More Likely As House Digs In
Using Senate rules permitting him to change the wording of a spending measure approved by the House last week, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to strip out language that would defund the law, change the expiration date on the funding bill to Nov. 15, and pass the measure with a simple majority achieved entirely with Democratic votes. Once the bill returns to the House, any move to change it would by necessity mean that the fight over funding the government would almost certainly continue at least until the final minutes of the fiscal year late on Monday night since the Senate’s arcane, time-sensitive rules would make swift consideration unlikely (O’Keefe, Helderman and Montgomery, 9/26).

Los Angeles Times: As GOP Infighting Persists, Threat Of Government Shutdown Heightens
Options for keeping the federal government open narrowed Thursday as some of the most conservative Republicans in the House rebuffed proposals from Speaker John A. Boehner, who had aimed to break a stalemate over the federal budget. The opposition from conservatives to any measures that fall short of their goals of cutting federal spending or dismantling President Obama's healthcare law left the Ohio Republican with little room to maneuver as a Monday night deadline approached for providing money to keep federal agencies running (Mascaro and Memoli, 9/26).

The Washington Post: Republican Hard-Liners Block Strategy To Avoid Federal Government Shutdown
Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team revealed the first step of that plan to rank-and-file lawmakers early Thursday, urging conservatives to shift their assault on President Obama’s health care law to the coming fight over the federal debt limit. That would allow lawmakers in the meantime to try to reach an agreement on a plan to fund federal agencies into the new fiscal year, which begins Tuesday, and avoid a shutdown. But about two dozen hard-liners rejected that approach, saying they will not talk about the debt limit until the battle over government funding is resolved (Montgomery and Kane, 9/26).

The New York Times: Republicans Facing A Test Of Unity
As the Congressional showdown over President Obama’s health care law threatens to shut down the government, conservative advocacy groups have emerged as central players — exerting outsize influence, investing tremendous time and resources, and turning the long-shot budget fight into a do-or-die battle that has pitted Republicans against one another (Parker, 9/26).

Bloomberg: Boehner Beset By Obamacare Foes In Race To Avoid Shutdowm
John Boehner helped start the clock running on a government shutdown. It’s up to him to stop it. The U.S. House speaker’s choice -- between keeping the government running and continuing to fight the nation’s three-year-old health-care law -- has implications for the 2014 congressional elections and, potentially, his future (Bender, 9/26).

The New York Times: House G.O.P. Raises Stakes In Debt-Ceiling Fight
Trying to round up votes from a reluctant rank and file, House Republicans said they would agree to increase the debt limit to avert a mid-October default only if Democrats accepted a list of Republican priorities, including a one-year delay of the health care law, a tax overhaul and a broad rollback of environmental regulations (Weisman, 9/26).

Politico: House GOP Banking On Plan C
At this point, it’s difficult to conclusively determine where all the House GOP’s maneuvering and false starts will end. In one sense, the developments might help Congress avoid a government shutdown. Most House Republicans now seem to recognize that they will likely have to swallow a funding resolution that leaves Obamacare intact. Yet, the ups-and-downs also dramatically increase the stakes in the debt-ceiling fight. The borrowing cap must be raised by Oct. 17, or the nation will default on its debts (Sherman and Bresnahan, 9/26).

Kaiser Health News: Obamacare In Middle Of Countdown To Possible Shutdown On Capitol Hill
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey and Politico Pro's Jennifer Haberkorn discuss how the standoff is likely to be resolved. The Affordable Care Act lies at the center of a last-minute push to fund the government past Sept. 30 (9/26).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.