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Sen. Lamar Alexander takes the Senate escalator. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Now the Senate has two competing plans to fund the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing subsidies — which could mean it won't be able to pass either one. Senate Finance chair Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means chair Kevin Brady outlined a new proposal yesterday as an alternative to the bipartisan ACA bill led by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray.

The details: It's hard to call these competing ACA stabilization bills. Although they'd both fund cost-sharing subsidies for two years, Hatch-Brady would also waive the law's individual mandate for five years — effectively replacing one source of rising premiums with another.

  • Conservatives are not happy with Alexander-Murray. They've argued that if they're going to keep the law's cost-sharing payments flowing, they should be able to extract severe regulatory reforms in exchange.
  • Hatch-Brady is definitely more conservative than Alexander-Murray. The big unknown is whether its presence will stop more Republicans from accepting Alexander-Murray as The Bill — especially in the House, where its standing is weaker than in the Senate.
  • One perspective: "Sad attempt at relevancy by health care staff on Finance who are upset that their boss is entirely focused on tax reform, as he should be," a senior GOP aide told my colleague Caitlin Owens.

The odds: 100% of the available evidence, from the entire Trump administration to date, suggests very strongly that Republicans are not capable of passing a health care bill on their own. They couldn't do it with 50 votes in the Senate, and either one of these bills would need 60.

  • Alexander-Murray has 60 votes in the Senate.
  • Hatch-Brady would have an extremely hard time getting there. Waiving the individual mandate will be too much to ask for most, if not all, Democrats.
  • Leadership will likely face a choice between passing Alexander-Murray, with only minor modifications; or not passing anything at all.
  • All of this still probably comes down to December, when lawmakers have to deal with a host of thorny must-pass bills.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.