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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

In the heat of his standoff last month with the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy wanted to take the movement national. While he was still a favorite of Fox News, he called on "every county sheriff in the United States" to "disarm the federal bureaucrats."

Bundy's star has since faded after he made his views on "the Negro" known. High-profile conservative supporters have abandoned him. But Bundy and his closest allies haven't given up the fight. They still seem to believe that a war is on the horizon and they are trying to rally forces to their side.

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Just a couple months ago, the pair of hearings that congressional Republicans held this week on Obamacare would have gone very differently.

The GOP was at the top of its oversight game back then, leaving administration officials flustered. But this week, the party appeared powerless to conjure the bad Obamacare headlines it has been seeking.

The two hearings showed two sides of the Republican dilemma on Obamacare. And both contributed to the growing sense that the politics of the health care law are shifting after the law cemented itself by reaching 8 million enrollees last month.

First, House Republicans continued an increasingly desperate search for evidence that recent Obamacare news hasn't been as positive as the White House has said. At that hearing, the Republicans were stumped by their own witnesses, who had mostly positive things to say about recent developments or refused to speculate about possible future shortcomings.

Then a day later, Senate Republicans seemed to make the tactical decision that hitting hard on the law wasn't the right strategy while reviewing the person nominated to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who served as the lightning rod for many of the law's controversies.

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In a flipping of the proverbial script, a Senate Democrat facing a tough re-election race used a confirmation hearing of Sylvia Mathews Burwell, nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services, to advocate forcefully in favor of Obamacare.

While Republican senators mostly went through the motions with their anti-Obamacare talking points or outright endorsed Burwell as Kathleen Sebelius's replacement, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) used her time to trumpet the benefits of Medicaid expansion -- and emphasize the downside of not expanding.

Left unsaid, but strongly implied, was that her opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, who locked up the GOP nomination earlier this week, had been instrumental in stopping the state from expanding Medicaid under the law.

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House Republicans spent Wednesday morning grilling insurance industry executives in a follow-up to their now-thoroughly debunked study on how many Obamacare enrollees have paid their premiums.

The testimony of the executives had already rebutted the GOP's earlier finding that only 67 percent of enrollees had actually paid so far. So the lawmakers went fishing for any other bad news that might be out there. They once again came up empty.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), chair of the subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that hosted the hearing, opened the questioning with what seemed like a laundry list of potential problem spots for the health care law.

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Insurance companies plan to effectively debunk the House GOP's much-derided Obamacare survey at a Wednesday hearing.

The hearing is a follow-up to last week's report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and is hosted by one of its subcommittees, that found only 67 percent of Obamacare enrollees had paid their premiums as of April 15. An industry source described the survey to TPM as "incredibly rigged" because it excluded any premium payments that were due April 30 or later.

Roughly 3 million of Obamacare's 8 million enrollees would have had payments due after April 15 because they signed up March 15 or later.

A follow-up letter sent to insurers by the committee seemed to indicate that companies had raised that issue. Testimony prepared for Wednesday's hearing, and which was first reported by Bloomberg, is another direct contradiction of the Republicans' methodology.

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Nobody, even Republicans themselves, seems sure how the GOP is going to approach the confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the next secretary of Health and Human Services. The fireworks, or perhaps lack thereof, are set to begin on Thursday at the first of two Senate committee hearings.

Will they raise all hell, obstructing the process as much as they can and using Burwell's confirmation to relive Obamacare's many alleged terrors? Or will they take a more restrained tack, getting their talking points across without blowing too much smoke, a recognition that the politics of the law might be changing?

It seems to depend on who you ask.

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