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Key GOP senator: ObamaCare payments likely to be included in funding bill

Key GOP senator: ObamaCare payments likely to be included in funding bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThis week: Congress starts lame-duck with leadership fight Senate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle Congress braces for high-drama lame duck MORE (R-Texas) said Wednesday that the Senate will likely include key ObamaCare payments in an end-of-year spending bill.

"I think that's likely to happen," Cornyn, the second-ranking Senate Republican, told reporters when asked if the cost-sharing reduction payments would be included in the December funding bill.

Cornyn added that the legislation from Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderBlackburn keeps Tennessee seat in GOP hands  Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Judge urges insurers to drop challenge over non-ObamaCare plans | Azar vows to push ahead with drug pricing proposal | No increase for ObamaCare outreach budget Dems blast Trump rule changes on ObamaCare MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle Dem senators want hearing on funding for detained migrant children Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump insists GOP will 'totally' protect people with pre-existing conditions | Landmark opioid bill signed into law | Report finds agencies blindsided by 'zero tolerance' policy MORE (D-Wash.), which would include two years of the ObamaCare payments to insurers in exchange for more flexibility to the states, could help lower premiums and "has merit."

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"I wouldn't do it as a stand-alone [bill] but I think with the repeal of the individual mandate it probably makes more sense," he said.

Republicans unveiled an updated tax plan on Tuesday night to repeal ObamaCare's individual insurance mandate, which has required most Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty.

But Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThis week: Congress starts lame-duck with leadership fight Senate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle Congress braces for high-drama lame duck MORE (S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, said on Tuesday the Senate would also pass the Alexander-Murray bill as part of the trade off.

Alexander separately said on Wednesday whether or not to include the subsidy funding in the spending bill was up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham backs bill to protect Mueller Grassley defends acting AG against calls for recusal Former staffers push Congress for action on sexual harassment measure MORE (R-Ky.), but he would support the move.

Democrats have been clamoring for the Senate to pass legislation funding the payments or to include them in the year-end agreement. Lawmakers have until Dec. 8 to pass government funding legislation or face a shutdown.

Still, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSunday shows preview: Trump taps acting attorney general to lead Justice Department Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Pelosi: Acting attorney general 'should not be there' MORE (D-N.Y.) warned on Wednesday that Democrats won't help pass Alexander-Murray if it's tied to the tax bill.

"The Republicans cannot expect to pass their own separate ideological health-care provision and then turn around and ask Democrats to vote to pass Alexander-Murray," Schumer said from the Senate floor.