Trump to continue paying Obamacare subsidies, lowering chance of government shutdown

PHOTO: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts a news conference with nurses in the Capitols Rayburn Room to oppose repeal of Affordable Care Act, January 25, 2017. PlayTom Williams/CQ Roll Call
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Democrats say the White House has signaled that the cost-sharing reduction subsidy payments under Obamacare will continue even if language guaranteeing them is not included in the government funding bill.

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The latest move by the White House removes a major obstacle in budget talks between Republicans and Democrats before a funding deadline on Friday and significantly lowers the chance of a government shutdown.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus relayed the news to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over the telephone today, according to Democratic aides.

"Our major concerns in these negotiations have been about funding for the [border] wall and uncertainty about the [cost-sharing reduction] payments crucial to the stability of the marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act," Pelosi said in a statement. "We've now made progress on both of these fronts."

At a minimum, this means the administration will continue making the payments until the end of May, when the administration has to provide a status update to a court.

Appropriators are continuing to negotiate in a bipartisan fashion on a catchall spending bill to fund the government through September.

In the event that the House and Senate cannot clear a measure by the midnight Friday deadline, Congress could pass a stopgap measure that funds the government for a week at current levels to give appropriators more time to finish negotiations.

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