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Glum House leaders begin search for fallbacks

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

House Republican leaders are beginning to give significant thought to what their exit-for-August bills look like if they don't have healthcare to leave on.

  • What we're hearing: House members are super-anxious about health care, and the pessimism levels are rising about getting a bill from the Senate. As everyone predicted, including Mitch McConnell: the July 4 recess made a bad situation worse.
  • The brutal math: Assuming Vice President Pence as the tie-breaker, Republicans can only lose 2 senators. There are at least 3 "hard" nays (Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Dean Heller of Nevada), and perhaps 5 (add Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas). Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is on the bubble.

The WashPost has a bearish story at the top of column 1 today, "GOP is far from goals as recess approaches," by Mike DeBonis and Ed O'Keefe: "Virtually every piece of their ambitious legislative agenda is stalled, according to multiple Republicans inside and outside of Congress."

"The fallout, according to these Republicans, could be devastating in next year's midterm elections."

Be smart: The doomsday forecasts fail to account for the fact that in Congress, everything is always in trouble until politics creates momentum. But at the moment, that looks about as likely as Vladimir Putin finding the real hacker.

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