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AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Senate Republicans are still deeply divided over the contents of their health care bill, and several big questions have yet to be answered. There's even talk of attempting a bipartisan alternative. And Majority Leader Mitch McConnell canceled the first two weeks of the August recess to give the chamber more time to work.

In short, things aren't looking good.

What we're hearing about the next iteration of the bill:

  • The Medicaid portions of the revised bill likely will stay largely the same as the first version — including the growth rate for new per-person funding caps and the process for phasing out the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. This is a loss for several moderates, including Sens. Dean Heller, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Captio, Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, John Hoeven and Susan Collins. It's a win for conservatives, particularly Sen. Pat Toomey.A small tweak is likely to be added that would benefit Louisiana, a senior GOP aide told me. This would help with Sen. Bill Cassidy's concerns.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham said he's working on an alternative health care bill, which he hopes would attract some Democratic support. An aide said he was scheduled to present on his plan at Tuesday's GOP lunch.
  • The jury's still out on whether to include Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee's Consumer Freedom Option in the bill, but there's a strong chance it doesn't meet Senate budget rules anyways. That means it could be subject to a 60-vote threshold to be included — whether as an amendment or part of the overall bill — and it surely wouldn't muster that many votes.
  • There will be additional funding for the opioid epidemic — likely $45 billion — as well as a provision saying people can use health savings accounts to pay their insurance premiums.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
5 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.