In it, but not of it. TPM DC

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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A new report put out by the Department of Health and Human Services on the effects of the Affordable Care Act shows that the benefits of Obamacare are cutting across all major demographic groups. More white Americans received coverage since October 2013 -- when the law's coverage provisions began to come into effect -- than black and Latino Americans combined. However, the rate of uninsured is dropping by a greater percentage among minority groups than the white population.

According to the report, released Tuesday, some 7.4 million white Americans received coverage -- under provisions including Medicaid, the Health Insurance Marketplace, and individual market coverage -- while 4 million Hispanics and 2.6 black Americans gained coverage in that period.

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A plan is emerging from Senate Republican leadership to avoid a government shutdown while still allowing hardliners to have their vote on defunding Planned Parenthood, according to various media reports.

Staff from Senate offices on both side of aisle confirmed to the Washington Post a route being mapped out in which the Senate would first vote on a short-term spending bill that blocked funding to Planned Parenthood, which would presumably be filibustered by Democrats. Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would bring up stop-gap legislation that would maintain government funding -- including for Planned Parenthood -- at current levels for a few more months, according to the Post report.

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Dr. Ben Carson was left out of a Christian pastors' conference earlier this year in part because his own religious beliefs deviated too much from Christian orthodoxy.

The snub was ironic in hindsight, as Carson is now under fire for saying over the weekend that he didn't believe a Muslim should be President of the United States because his or her religious beliefs would be in conflict with the Constitution.

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