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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

The Obama administration said Thursday that it supports a Senate amendment to the House-passed government spending bill that would allow Obamacare to be funded.

The support came in an official policy statement issued Thursday by the Office of Management and Budget. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced the amendment on Wednesday.

The White House has routinely said it would veto any bill that defunded the health care law, as the House-passed legislation did. Reid's amendment strikes that language from the bill.

A Senate is expected to vote on the spending bill in the next few days.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration was touting its news that health insurance premiums under Obamcare had come in significantly lower than expected. With Ted Cruz still arguing on the Senate floor about how the law would destroy the U.S. health care system, it's easy to imagine why the White House was gloating.

And the premium data is mostly good news for the administration. Lower-than-expected premiums means coverage should be more affordable and cost the federal government -- which is heavily subsidizing much of it -- less, versus expectations. But there are a few pieces of the story that the federal data doesn't fully tell, which savvy health care consumers (and interested political parties) would do well to keep in mind.

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Senate Republicans voted unanimously Wednesday to begin debate on a government spending bill that defunds Obamacare.

In the normal universe of a week ago, it makes perfect sense. But in Ted Cruz's new alternate universe, it threw conservative constituents for a total loop. Hadn't the Texas Republican been begging his colleagues to vote against such a procedural move? Wasn't this the moment to stand up to and fight, not to appease like Neville Chamberlain?

It fell to beleaguered congressional staffers to try to explain the procedural morass to confused constituents.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asserted Wednesday that Ted Cruz's 21-hour filibuster had actually hurt the Texas Republican's own cause and aided Senate Democrats.

"He's holding the American people hostage because he's so sure he's right and everybody else is wrong," Schumer told reporters. "Senator Cruz has actually advanced our cause. He has alienated some of his colleagues. He has united Democrats, and he's shown the American people that he is willing to hold them and their well being hostage unless he gets his way."

Schumer reiterated that Senate Democrats were receptive to returning the government spending bill to the House as quickly as possible to avoid a government shutdown. If Cruz and company take as much time as Senate rules allow, the Senate would not pass a bill until Sunday, leaving only 48 hours until a shutdown.

"If they want to speed things up, we are not going to slow things down," he said.

He also indicated that most Senate Democrats would support a short-term spending bill that maintained sequestration.

Though there will be variations across the country, most Americans will be able to choose from multiple health insurance plans and pay lower-than-expected premiums for coverage on the Obamacare health insurance marketplaces, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the administration's analysis of data for the 36 states participating in the federal marketplace, with some additional information from 11 states with state-based marketplaces, 95 percent of Americans will be able to choose between two or more health insurance carriers and will live in states where premiums are lower than originally estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.

It's the definitive look at the insurance market with less than a week to go until the marketplaces open for enrollment.

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Americans will be able to register to vote when applying for insurance through Obamacare, a White House official told TPM Tuesday, despite reports to the contrary and outcry from congressional Republicans.

Mother Jones reported earlier Tuesday on a report from progressive groups, which asserted that the Obama administration was planning to back down from its plan to offer voter registration on the federal marketplace, which will cover 36 states. The source of the claim is unclear, which the Mother Jones article acknowledged, but it sparked some panic among liberal activists.

Not to worry, a senior administration official told TPM: Voter registration through the health insurance marketplaces will continue as planned. The official said any reports to the contrary were "inaccurate."

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Club For Growth, the influential conservative organization, is urging Senate Republicans to back Ted Cruz's plan to filibuster the House-passed government spending bill that defunds Obamacare.

The group will therefore also score how senators vote on "cloture."

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.

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.

 

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