In it, but not of it. TPM DC

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) may have sacrificed his speaker's gavel to keep the government open through the week. But the path that lies ahead for his successor is much trickier. Even if lawmakers, as expected, pass a short-term spending bill this week, they face a series of other deadlines before the end of the year that could converge into one giant showdown fueled by freshly emboldened hardliners who see compromise as defeat.

“It is setting up a very major set of hurdles for the next majority leader come the middle of December,” Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center who worked for the U.S. Senate for 25 years, told TPM. “How they make this silk purse out of a sow’s ear is going to be very, very difficult.”

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By falling on his gavel, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) cleared a path for Congress to pass a short-term spending bill and avoid a government shutdown.

The Senate will begin considering Monday evening a bill to fund the government through Dec. 11, the controversial Planned Parenthood funding included. With a final vote expected Tuesday, the House will have about a day to pass the legislation and keep the government open in time for the Sept. 30 deadline.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) explained his surprise decision to step down as a move to stabilize a congressional GOP rocked by revolts over his leadership. However, already, Republican lawmakers have expressed skepticism that his resignation will really cure what ails the House Republicans.

“To be perfectly honest with you, the results we get are probably going to be the same thing, it’s just going to be a different face,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) told reporters. “The natives are restless, and they want to see something change. So how much change somebody can bring about, we’ll see.”

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Pope Francis quietly met Wednesday evening with the Little Sisters of the Poor, the order of Catholic nuns suing the Obama administration over its contraceptive mandate, Forbes reported.

The meeting was short and largely under the radar compared to other stops on the pope's itinerary, but the Vatican signaled that the unscheduled meeting should be taken as an endorsement of the nuns' lawsuit.

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Republican leaders think they have a plan to avert a government shutdown. They now just have to hope that the hardliners pushing for one won't find a way to thwart it -- and there are many ways they could make things go wrong.

With a week to go before the deadline to pass a spending bill expires, GOP leaders in the House and Senate must guide a short-term funding bill through a delicate legislative process. Their plan depends on outmaneuvering the group of 30 or so conservative lawmakers vowing to block any funding legislation that includes money for Planned Parenthood. They must also sidestep Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who is openly threatening to make trouble in the Senate.

In the end, even the best-laid plans would only get a stop-gap bill through Congress. A long-term deal would still need to be worked out, and deep divisions remain unbridged. But it would buy time, avoid a needless government shutdown, and forestall the political firestorm Republicans would face heading into the 2016 elections.

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Employers say that Obamacare had only a limited effect in their hiring and hours practices, according to a survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust.

The report released Tuesday -- revealed that only four percent of the employers with 50 or more workers said they downgraded full-time employees to part-time employees in order to avoid the coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile 10 percent of the employers with 50 or more employees*​ boosted their part-time employees to full-time so the workers would be eligible for coverage. (The ACA requires employers with 100 more or more employees to provide coverage. That mandate will expand to include employers with 50-99 employees in 2016.)

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