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(Scott Applewhite / AP)

Senate Republicans have a new headache. They don't want any money in the GOP health care bill to be used for plans that cover abortions, but the restrictions in the House version may not pass Senate rules. And since members don't want to create a new health care tax credit that isn't explicitly pro-life, they may just have to work within the current Affordable Care Act premium subsidy structure, according to three GOP Senate aides.

They'll still try to convince the parliamentarian that the anti-abortion restrictions comply with budget rules, and some Republicans remain optimistic that they'll win. But members were warned at their working group meeting on Tuesday that things aren't looking good and given the alternative options.

Public optimism: "I think they're still having this conversation with the parliamentarian, but I think everybody — and I think wisely so – is sort of gaming out how we deal with all these various issues" that may violate Senate rules, Sen. John Thune, the No. 3 Republican leader in the Senate, told me.

The response: Republicans "basically told McConnell to argue better" in persuading the parliamentarian that the anti-abortion restrictions should stay, a senior GOP aide said.

Sound smart: It's unclear how the ACA premium subsidies could be tweaked to be made more conservative or cost less money, but Republicans have said the way they're currently structured encourages insurers to charge higher premiums. Still, keeping the ACA subsidies is a serious option for Plan B.

Here's how different they are:

  • ACA premium subsidies are based on income, geography and the cost of a benchmark exchange premium.
  • The House bill's tax credits vary by age and phase out for higher-income people.

Plan C: If both of the other options fail, the third option is to end all tax credits and instead put $500 billion into the Children's Health Insurance Program, according to a senior GOP aide.

  • Fun fact: When I asked whether this was a joke, the aide said, "That's what several members asked."

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - World

U.S. releases report finding Saudi prince approved Khashoggi operation

Photo: Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released an unclassified report assessing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) approved the operation to "capture or kill" Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Driving the news: The White House also announced sanctions on entities implicated in the murder, though not on MBS directly. Officials also announced a new "Khashoggi ban" under which individuals accused of harassing journalists or dissidents outside their borders can be barred from entering the U.S.

About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says

Joe Biden speaks during an event commemorating the 50 million COVID-19 vaccine shots. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Nearly 1 in 5 adults and nearly half of Americans 65 and older have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt said on Friday.

The big picture: The Biden administration has previously said it has secured enough doses to vaccinate most of the American population by the end of July.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. Vaccine: Employers mull COVID vaccine requirements — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategyPfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.