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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

Another Florida County took action Tuesday to allow Obamacare counselors to operate on its health department grounds, despite a directive from Gov. Rick Scott's administration limiting their access.

The Democratic-controlled Broward County Commission voted 8 to 1 to approve a resolution allowing so-called navigators, who are supposed to assist people in signing up for health coverage under the health care reform law, to work in county health department facilities.

As TPM has reported, the Florida Department of Health advised county health departments -- which in Florida are operated by the state -- that navigators would not be allowed to interact with consumers on department grounds. But Pinellas County officials objected to the rule, and the state relented on Sept. 12.

Broward County, home to 1.7 million people, followed suit Tuesday. As in Pinellas County, Broward County is the landlord for the state-operated health department's facilities.

A Broward County official told TPM after the vote that the county had not yet heard from the state.

The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to confirm Todd Hughes to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, making Hughes the first openly gay judge on the federal circuit bench.

Hughes was formerly the deputy director of the Justice Department's commercial litigation office.

"This vote marks an important milestone," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patric Leahy (D-VT), whose committee oversaw Hughes's nomination, said in a statement. "I am proud that today the Senate is finally taking this critical step to break down another barrier and increase diversity on our Federal bench.” 

The conservative base should support and vote for primary opponents of congressional Republicans who refuse to back Sen. Ted Cruz's effort to filibuster a House-passed government spending bill defunding Obamacare, RedState editor-in-chief Erick Erickson wrote in a Tuesday column.

The column comes the day after Senate GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn said they would not support Cruz's plan. Matt Bevin, McConnell's primary opponent, has already criticized the senator's position.

"The Cruz strategy would never work in and of itself. It required stronger, braver souls than the GOP currently has to offer," Erickson wrote. "It does, however, throw such a light on these Republicans that it will make it both easier to challenge them in primaries and, more importantly, make it much, much harder for them to cooperate with the Democrats on Obamacare fixes."

"Win or lose, Cruz and Lee have boxed in both the Democrats and the Republicans into positions that will make it more difficult for them to nuance their way out of," he continued.

Erickson praised Heritage Action and the Senate Conservatives Fund, two conversative grassroots groups that have supported Cruz. Heritage Action has said it would score whether Senate Republicans vote with Cruz to filibuster the House spending bill.

 

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticized the plan of Ted Cruz and others to filibuster the House-passed government spending bill that defunds Obamacare.

"I just don't happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare," McConnell said. "All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded, and none of us want that. That would be the results of filibustering."

The offices of McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) both said Monday that they would not support Cruz's filibuster effort, uniting Senate GOP leadership against the strategy.

Cruz has said that Senate Republicans should filibuster the House bill until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) agrees to a 60-vote threshold for any motion that removes the defund language.

Obamacare's health insurance marketplaces, the law's public face, go live in one week. Many uninsured Americans will be able to log onto a website, enter some basic information and apply for private health coverage. When the law was written, some of them would have found out they qualified for Medicaid after the program was expanded nationwide.

But because the U.S. Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion optional last year and more than 20 GOP-controlled states refused to expand the program, millions of poor and uninsured Americans will log onto the marketplaces in the coming months and find out they won't be able to get health insurance after all.

And those who can might be paying a little more.

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Ted Cruz's plan doesn't make much sense on its face. He says he wants to filibuster the House-passed government spending bill that defunds Obamacare. Why would he want to block a bill that accomplishes his dream?

The apparent contradiction underlines the politically difficult position that Cruz has put his caucus in. How do you explain to your constituents that you voted to block a bill that would have defunded the health care law that they so deeply revile? Explaining the arcane rules of the Senate isn't the easiest political message, though Cruz has earned the backing of big conservative groups to fortify his position.

But the fact that he's in this position at all probably isn't a good sign. "Rule No. 1 in communications is if you are explaining, you are losing," a senior Senate GOP aide told TPM.

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Americans by a wide margin oppose shutting down the government or defaulting on the national debt in order to force the defunding of Obamacare, according to a new poll.

The CNBC All-America Economic Survey found 59 percent of respondents opposed those scenarios, with only 19 percent supporting. Another 18 percent were unsure.

Even when the possibility of a government shutdown is removed, a plurality of respondents still opposed defunding the 2010 health care reform law, 44 percent to 38 percent.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 16 to Sept. 19 and surveyed 800 people. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.4 percent.

 

Most think it's a long shot that Senate Democrats will vote to defund Obamacare, even after the House approved a defund measure Friday, but at least one congressional Republican is expecting some divine intervention.

"I think there are senators who are going to find Jesus and do the right thing," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told CNN's Jake Tapper on Friday. Jordan quickly clarified, at Tapper's urging, that his metaphor was about the bill's passage and not about finding religion.

The House government spending bill passed 230-189. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that the defund bill is dead on arrival in that chamber, and no Senate Democrats have publicly supported it. A Senate vote is expected sometime next week. 

After telling TPM this week that forcing a showdown over defunding Obamacare was futile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted Friday that he supported the House-passed bill stripping funding from the health care reform law.

That endorsement would appear to clash with Graham's comments earlier in the week.

"I just think we know how this movie ends," Graham told TPM Tuesday. "I don't see us being able, in the Senate, to successfully carry the day. There are only 45 of us here. I don't see the president, at the end of the day, agreeing to defund Obamacare. I just don't see him agreeing to defund his signature issue. They had a campaign on it. I don't think he's going to say, 'well, now, everything I said all those years -- forget it, I'm willing to let it go.' I just don't see that being a good tactical choice."

UPDATE: 3:55 p.m. EDT

A Senate GOP aide, who declined to speak publicly on his or his boss's behalf, explained the apparent contradiction to TPM.

"You don't get the situation we now find ourselves in. Senator Cruz and Senate Conservatives Fund now want to filibuster the House-passed bill," the aide told TPM. "You can't pass defund Obamacare legislation by filibustering defund Obamacare legislation."

"I think every GOP member supports defunding Obamacare," the aide said. "The question is on the procedure of how you're going to do it."

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), the lone House Republican to vote against a government spending bill that would defund Obamacare, explained that he opposed the bill because it kept sequestration in place.

“This CR fails to address the sequester that is negatively impacting those who wear our nation’s uniform and is the result of Congress’ inability to pass the 12 appropriations bills necessary to properly fund the government on time," Rigell, who represents a district that President Obama carried in 2012, said in a statement. "What is needed is a comprehensive solution to our nation’s fiscal challenges, including a replacement for sequestration."

Rigell's office added, though, that he "appreciated leadership’s effort to defund the health care law as part of the appropriations process and agrees it should be defunded."

The House bill passed Friday 230-189.

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