Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The White House and congressional Republicans are on the same page when it comes to the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing subsidies: keep the money flowing for a while. But there's a problem: A federal judge has said that page is unconstitutional. And while everyone's agreeing to just not worry about that right now, it's still the law of the land — and it can't be ignored forever.

The Trump administration is providing the ACA subsidies without an appropriation from Congress. That's exactly the same arrangement the Obama administration employed, House Republicans challenged in court, and a federal judge ruled unconstitutional. "The administration is pretty overtly acting contrary to law," says Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor and an expert on ACA litigation.

The problem: Even if House Republicans would like to give Trump a pass, that's not so easy now that the courts are involved. They can't ask the judge to just forget about that whole unconstitutional-implementation thing.

So both sides are trying to avoid the legal controversy instead of resolving it. The courts have gone along with that strategy so far, granting delays a few months at a time while the two parties try to reach an agreement. The courts would likely continue to grant those delays for a long time, Bagley said, letting Trump and the House avoid a showdown.

Insurers, though, don't just want the subsidies to keep flowing — they want predictability. And kicking the can down the road 90 days at a time is not predictability.

Why it matters: The uncertainty around this case is a huge driver of the premium increases insurers are seeking this year, and with no real end in sight, they're unlikely to feel much more confident about the ACA's stability.

For future reference: This is also, as Bagley sees it, the danger of elevating political disputes to the courts. You can change your talking points based on the president's party affiliation, but once you've persuaded a judge that something was unconstitutional, that's what sticks — even if you might prefer to change your mind.

Go deeper

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.

Far-right figure "Baked Alaska" arrested for involvement in Capitol siege

Photo: Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The FBI arrested far-right media figure Tim Gionet, known as "Baked Alaska," on Saturday for his involvement in last week's Capitol riot, according to a statement of facts filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

The state of play: Gionet was arrested in Houston on charges related to disorderly or disruptive conduct on the Capitol grounds or in any of the Capitol buildings with the intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session, per AP.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!