Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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After weeks of flailing by House GOP leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) put in motion his own plan to avoid a government shutdown.

McConnell Tuesday announced a vote late this week on a spending bill that would defund Planned Parenthood while increasing defense funding. That bill, scheduled for a vote on Thursday, is expected to be filibustered by Democrats. However, the GOP leadership reportedly hopes that once it fails, proving that Republicans lack the votes to defund Planned Parenthood, the Senate will be able to advance a short-term spending bill, known as a "clean" continuing resolution. It would maintain funding levels -- including Planned Parenthood's funding -- around their current levels for a few more months while lawmakers hash out a larger budget deal.

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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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Carly Fiorina came under fire this week for claiming during the GOP debate that the Planned Parenthood "sting" videos released by anti-abortion activists included a scene where one can watch "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."

The campaign has not been able to point to such a scene, nor can the makers of the film.

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What does the video show and where does it show it?

Those have been the question since Wednesday's debate, when Carly Fiorina graphically described a scene she claimed appeared in those heavily-edited Planned Parenthood "sting" videos.

But pressed to identify which video contains the gruesome scene Fiorina described, neither her campaign nor the anti-abortion group who produced the sting videos have not been able to do so.

We've watched the clips they did send along, and here's what they show. But first a reminder of what Fiorina said.

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The week is coming to a close with congressional GOP leaders no closer to a plan to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month.

The latest suggestion from House GOP leaders -- pass a stop-gap funding bill with Planned Parenthood funding, then defund it with a separate budget maneuver that would avoid a Senate filibuster and force a presidential veto -- has received a cool reception from the conservative congressmen pushing for a shutdown. Meanwhile, Democrats and the president have presented a united front, hoping to use the Republican infighting to their advantage.

The situation reflects a Republican leadership eager to avoid a shutdown, fearing its consequences on the 2016 race, but unsure how to rein in the most extreme elements of its caucus, who see the 2014 GOP congressional victories as a mandate to double-down on the most hardline stances of the party. Complicating the situation further is the abbreviated period lawmakers have to figure out how to break the impasse. With Yom Kippur, a speech by Pope Francis and a visit by the Chinese president interrupting congressional activity next week, only a handful of days on the legislative calendar stand between now and another shutdown.

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As the deadline to fund the government approaches, the House GOP leadership is floating a new plan that would allow members to rail against Planned Parenthood funding but avoid a government shutdown over the issue. The question is whether anti-abortion hardliners would sign on to a maneuver that has no chance of actually defunding the reproductive rights organization and wouldn't guarantee the political fireworks of a shutdown.

The route being hinted at by the House GOP leadership team this week would keep the government open past the Sept. 30 deadline through a stop-gap spending measure. The so-called "clean continuing resolution" would keep government spending levels at their current levels (Planned Parenthood funding included). But then to appease the hardliners, the leadership would push through a separate budget measure under "reconciliation" rules which would defund Planned Parenthood separately and could not be filibustered in the Senate.

This plan, still under consideration but emerging as a real alternative, would achieve a much-desired conservative goal: force Obama to grapple with Planned Parenthood funding directly, by either signing or vetoing it. But it would not force Obama to chose between funding the government and funding Planned Parenthood, a catch-22 that conservatives have been eager to put him in for weeks, despite's Obama assurance he would veto any legislation that defunded Planned Parenthood.

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With his polling in the single digits and his frontrunner status a thing of the distant past, Jeb Bush had one thing to prove at the second GOP debate: that he was the mainstream candidate to take on Donald Trump.

But Bush’s performance Wednesday night did not do much to calm the GOP donor class’s concerns that they bet on him too early. While his rivals for establishment support landed their punches on Trump, Bush was wobbly and at times overrun by the brazen billionaire.

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