In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The fate of Obamacare will again be in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court next year -- and if the conservative justices rule to invalidate tax credits offered through the federal HealthCare.gov, dealing a punishing blow to the law, it isn't at all clear that the White House will have the legal and practical leeway to save it.

That was the conclusion of three academics in a new analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine which outlined the challenges that the Obama administration would face in that worst-case Supreme Court scenario. The most obvious solution to an adverse Supreme Court ruling is to turn every exchange into a state exchange, allowing the law's tax credits to flow again -- but how easy will it be for the administration to do that?

"We're quite pessimistic. The operational, legal and political challenges here are immense," Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who co-authored the article, told TPM in a phone interview on Thursday. "The more I've looked at this, the more alarmed I've grown."

The problem is three-pronged: Legal, because the Affordable Care Act sets some very specific requirements for state-based exchanges; practical, because states might not have time or authority to act after the Court ruling comes down in June, as expected; and political, because Republican intransigence against Obamacare is currently one of the defining elements of American politics.

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After six and a half hours of delay and uncertainty, House Republican leaders announced a vote Thursday on a spending bill that faces fierce opposition on the left and right and threw Congress into chaos.

The vote comes just three hours before the government is poised to shut down if Congress doesn't pass a bill that President Barack Obama signs by midnight.

Many expect the spending bill to fail, with conservative Republicans angry that it permits Obama's immigration actions, and progressive Democrats furious about provisions that weaken rules on banks and loosen campaign.

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It's safe to say that many Washington, D.C., residents are unhappy with a provision in the federal government funding bill that would block the implementation of the district's ballot measure legalizing weed.

D.C. voters passed a ballot measure in November to legalize marijuana, but the federal government technically has the power to withhold funding for the city government to regulate the sale of the drug or to collect taxes on it. So while the legalization measure can still technically go through, Congress has handcuffed the city government over regulation.

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Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) are pushing to scuttle the GOP leadership's spending bill in favor of a stopgap proposal that includes a symbolic vote against President Barack Obama's immigration executive actions.

As House Republicans scrambled to secure the votes for a spending bill, the two conservative lawmakers told reporters on Thursday afternoon they have floated a plan to Republican leaders that they believe would unite the GOP caucus.

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The Republican-led House averted disaster by the slimmest of margins in a dramatic test vote on Thursday to advance the $1.1 trillion government funding bill.

The "rule" passed by a 214 to 212 vote, with Democrats unanimously voting "no" and some Republicans switching to "yes" in the final moments to ensure that the legislation comes up for a House vote later on Thursday.

The outcome was in doubt until the very end — GOP leaders were losing the vote and held it open after time had expired, despite Democrats yelling at them to close it, and called it once enough members switched to pass it. In the end, 16 Republicans voted against it.

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Over the last three years, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has set up at least three private equity funds, incorporating in countries like the United Kingdom and soliciting foreign investors from China and elsewhere. His most recent venture was first disclosed in a Nov. 27 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Bloomberg Politics' Joshua Green laid out the web of Bush's financial dealings in a new report Thursday, revelations that raise both substantive and practical questions about his prospects for a presidential candidacy in 2016.

Bush was named chairman and manager of BH Global Aviation, described by Bloomberg as a "new offshore private equity fund" that raised $61 million in September. It was incorporated in November in the United Kingdom and Wales, which experts told Green functioned as a tax haven for overseas investors.

According to Bloomberg, Bush has also launched another $26 million fund, supported by a Chinese business conglomerate, and a $40 million shale oil exploration fund in the last two years through a Florida-based holding company. All three funds are under the auspices of Bush's Florida company Britton Hill Holdings.

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The U.S. congressman who inserted language in the omnibus spending bill to block Washington, D.C.'s marijuana legalization ballot initiative says it doesn't violate the principle of state's rights.

"D.C.'s not a state," Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) told a few reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday, in response to a question by TPM.

"I'm sorry, it's not a state!" he laughed.

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