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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 - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

GOP congressman forfeits committee seats after indictment

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.