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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

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sought Friday to lay the blame for a possible government shutdown on congressional Republicans, saying that they refused to negotiate on the issue.

Pelosi pointed to the GOP's inability to reconcile their competing factions as the reason that the federal government is a few days away from shutting down.

"It's impossible for Democrats to negotiate with House Republicans when they can't negotiate with themselves," Pelosi told reporters. "We don't know what we're going to vote on from one minute to the next because I don't think they know what they're going to vote on."

"I don't know that they even know what they're doing," she added.

President Obama came out swinging in a Thursday speech on the Affordable Care Act, taking the law's opponents to task for spreading misinformation and overstating problems with its implementation.

"I wanted to take a little bit of time today to speak with you, the people who send us to serve, about something that is critical to our families, critical to our businesses, critical to our economy, and that is the reforms that we are making to our health care system," Obama told the crowd at Prince George's Community College in Maryland. "There's been a lot of things said, a lot of misinformation, a lot of confusion. But there are few things more fundamental to the economic security of the middle class and everybody who is trying to get into the middle class than health care."

It was the final pitch, if you will, five days before the law's health insurance marketplaces open. It came as congressional Republican opposition to Obamacare is reaching a crescendo, with GOP leadership trying to hold the law ransom in budget and debt-ceiling negotiations unless the White House agrees to delay or defund it. It came amid numerous reports -- including another one right after Obama spoke -- about glitches or delays in the law's rollout.

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The Obama administration announced another Obamacare delay Thursday -- this time for small businesses enrolling for coverage on the law's online health insurance marketplaces -- but administration officials quickly downplayed the practical impact of the news.

The Associated Press reported that small businesses would not be able to enroll for coverage starting Oct. 1, the marketplaces' launch date. Joanne Peters, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, elaborated to TPM on what that means.

Business owners will still be able to peruse their coverage options online starting Oct. 1, but not buy them. By November, they should be able to purchase the coverage, well before it takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014. HHS is also expanding the small-business call center's hours to 10 hours a day starting Oct. 1 to handle calls from consumers.

Peters noted that small-business enrollment will be year-round, softening the impact of delayed enrollment. That's different from the more limited window for enrollment that individuals have. Individuals will be still able to purchase coverage right away on Oct. 1, Peters said, and individual enrollment will end as planned in March 2014.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Thursday that he would support a one-year delay of Obamacare's individual mandate as part of a short-term government spending bill.

Delaying implementation of one of the key pieces of Obamacare is one of the provisions that congressional Republicans are reportedly considering including in the temporary government spending bill when it comes back from the Senate.

Manchin's comments, made at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington, D.C., were reported by Bloomberg News.

“There’s no way I could not vote for it. It’s very reasonable and sensible,” Manchin said. “Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now. Give them at least a year. If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”

Politico reported Tuesday that House Republicans might attach an amendment, delaying the individual mandate, to the spending bill when it returns from the Senate.

As TPM reported Thursday, House Republican could also demand a one-year delay of the health care law in exchange for passing a debt-limit hike. 

The Obama administration has routinely said that it would veto any legislation that delayed the law's implementation.

UPDATE, 2:11 p.m. EDT

Manchin elaborated on his position in a Thursday statement.

“I have always opposed the individual mandate, and I continue to have concerns with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the cost and choices West Virginians will have in the health care exchanges," Manchin said. "That being said, I do not believe that this issue should be used to shut down the government, and I will not vote to shut down the government. We need to work together as Americans to solve these problems so we can get our economy back on track and create American jobs.”

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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