In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is calling all hands on deck to fix his state's huge self-imposed budget crisis, which nearly cost him re-election this year, and the staunch conservative is now receiving an assist from an unlikely source: Obamacare.

The state's well-documented budget troubles came after Brownback's dramatic reductions in taxes since taking office in 2011. With its revenue drying up and cash reserves depleted, Kansas is staring at a $280 million hole in its $6.4 billion FY 2015 budget, which ends in June.

Brownback offered his proposal for closing that hole last week, a mixture of spending cuts and transferring funds from other parts of the budget to fill it. And second biggest of those transfers is $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program that was bolstered under the Affordable Care Act.

The short version then is this: Obamacare is helping Kansas address its fiscal crisis -- even if Brownback's administration seems loath to admit it.

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While Republican senators were fuming at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) for holding up a $1.1 trillion spending bill aimed at preventing a government shutdown, Democrats saw a silver lining: the move by Cruz and Lee gave Democrats an opening to move a number of President Barack Obama's nominees for federal judgeships and the executive branch.

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The government funding bill colloquially called the CRomnibus that the House passed on Thursday night included a GOP-proposed change to an Obamacare program long loathed by Republicans.

A House aide confirmed to TPM that Republican staffers requested the change to the so-called risk corridor program, which is designed to keep premiums stable by making payments to insurers if they lose more money than expected in the law's first few years.

Some health policy wonks picked up on the language, but it received negligible attention compared to the campaign finance and Dodd-Frank provisions that nearly derailed the spending bill in the House on Thursday night.

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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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