Jun 6, 2017

The Senate has an abortion problem

(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 β€” 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."

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What to watch in tonight's Democratic debate

Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Colorado. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Bernie Sanders is now the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his opponents are ready to try to knock him down at tonight's debate in Charleston, South Carolina β€” especially Michael Bloomberg, who was the punching bag at the Las Vegas debate.

Why it matters: This is the last debate before Super Tuesday, when Sanders is expected to win California and Texas and could secure an insurmountable lead for the Democratic nomination. That's a direct threat to the entire field, but especially to Bloomberg, who skipped the early states to focus on the March 3 contests.

Bob Iger to step down as CEO of Disney

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The Walt Disney Company said Tuesday that it had named longtime Disney executive Bob Chapek as CEO Bob Iger's successor, effectively immediately. Iger will remain executive chairman of the company through 2021.

Why it matters: Iger is credited with having successfully turned around Disney’s animation and studio businesses and with the strategic acquisition of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. Most recently, he was the person behind Disney's successful launch of its Netflix rival Disney+.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business