The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

For health care, little has changed. Nothing is settled.

Placeholder while article actions load

The big news today is that little has changed. The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. The individual mandate remains as part of it. The Obama administration will continue working to implement it. And yet, somehow, nothing is settled.

The Supreme Court has shifted far enough to the right that Randy Barnett, a libertarian Georgetown law professor who was dismissed as a fringe opponent of the legislation when he began his campaign to get it overturned, could say, truthfully,  "We won. All the arguments that the law professors said were frivolous were affirmed by a majority of the Court." But it has not shifted so far to the right that a majority of its members were willing to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

The reality is that both of these questions will be decided by the presidential election. The winner will clearly decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act, if only by deciding whether it survives to 2014. And he will likely get the opportunity to appoint one or more justices, which could decide whether the Supreme Court continues its rightward shift or swings back towards the left. So while little changed yesterday, it was a reminder of how much could change in November.

Want Wonkbook delivered to your inbox or mobile device? Subscribe!

Wonkbook dashboard

RCP Obama vs. RomneyObama +3.6%; 7-day change: Obama +1.3%.

RCP Obama approval48.0%; 7-day change: +0.1%.

Top story: Roberts' Rules of Healthcare

The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Thursday joined the Supreme Court’s liberals to save the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, agreeing that the requirement for nearly all Americans to secure insurance is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority. The court’s 5 to 4 ruling was a stunning legal conclusion to a battle that has consumed American politics for two years. Roberts’s compromise offered a dramatic victory for Obama and Democrats’ decades-long effort to enact a health-care law and a bitter defeat for Republicans and tea party activists, who had uniformly opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The decision keeps in place the largest new social program in a generation, a major overhaul of the health-care system that could extend coverage to about 30 million Americans. " Robert Barnes in The Washington Post.

READ: The Supreme Court's full opinion.

The deciding vote? Chief Justice John Roberts. "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has a favorite quotation from one of the giants who preceded him on the Supreme Court. Assessing the constitutionality of a law passed by Congress, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once wrote, 'is the gravest and most delicate duty that this court is called on to perform.' In finding a way to uphold President Obama’s health care overhaul law on Thursday, Chief Justice Roberts performed the task with exquisite delicacy. That he did was a surprise from a judge whose rulings and background, including legal work in the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush, suggested a conventionally conservative worldview...The last several chief justices each served for more than 15 years and participated in more than 1,000 decisions apiece. But just a handful of those rulings came to define their legacies...The legacy of the Roberts court came into focus on Thursday." Adam Liptak in The New York Times.

@morninggloria: Roberts is the Severus Snape of the Supreme Court.

The law still faces challenges. "The Supreme Court just upheld the Affordable Care Act as constitutional, affirming Congress’ authority to require Americans to purchase health insurance coverage. It’s no doubt an understatement to describe this as a huge victory for the law, and the Obama administration. The Affordable Care Act - after spending two years in legal limbo - now has the court’s backing to move forward. That does not, however, mean the law has smooth sailing ahead. Many obstacles still stand in the law’s way, ones that could derail its success nearly as much as an adverse legal ruling...Former governor Mitt Romney (R) has repeatedly pledged that, if elected, he would repeal Obamacare on his first day in office...States hold a huge amount of sway with what happens with the Affordable Care Act...The Affordable Care Act has been divisive since it became law, with public opinion polls regularly finding the American public leaning against the overhaul." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

States delaying implementation will have to rush to meet deadlines. "The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act shifts the focus from whether sweeping changes to the health insurance market should take place to a scramble to meet the law’s rapidly approaching deadlines. A number of largely Republican-led states that gambled on delay now face the unsettling prospect that the federal government could take over their responsibilities, particularly in setting up the health insurance marketplaces known as exchanges, where people will be able to choose among policies for their coverage. Under the law, which the court upheld in its entirety by a 5-to-4 vote, individuals must be able to buy insurance coverage through the new state exchanges by Jan. 1, 2014. But a more immediate deadline is less than six months away, on Jan. 1, 2013, when states must demonstrate to the Department of Health and Human Services that the exchanges will be operational the next year." Kevin Sack and Reed Abelson in The New York Times.

The decision put new limits on the Commerce Clause. But how much will they matter? "So the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. But in doing so, Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion appears to have placed new limits on Congress’s ability to regulate interstate commerce. Will this make future federal legislation harder to enact? Or does Congress still, in theory, have the power to make everyone buy broccoli?...Some observers think that this new distinction between activity and inactivity could prove quite significant. 'The rejection of the Commerce Clause,' wrote SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston, 'should be understood as a major blow to Congress’s authority to pass social welfare laws.' Other legal scholars, however, aren’t so sure that this curtails Congress’ power. Douglas Laycock, a constitutional law professor at the University of Virginia, says it was unexpected that the Supreme Court made a distinction between activity and inactivity. But, he says, it’s hard to think of a situation where this will matter much." Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

@RyanLizza: Can anyone think of an actual policy proposal that the newly restricted Commerce Clause would affect? Seems ACA mandate was very unique.

States will be able to opt-out of Medicaid expansion. "Buried in the Supreme Court’s 193-page decision on the health reform law was one big surprise: States can opt out of the law’s sweeping expansion of Medicaid, significantly reducing the number of Americans who gain insurance. That ruling, experts say, could leave some of the poorest Americans in a 'no-man’s land:' Not covered by the federal entitlement program but not eligible for the subsidized health insurance...The Medicaid expansion is expected to extend health insurance coverage to about 17 million Americans by 2019 by expanding the program to cover everyone below 133 percent of the federal poverty line (about $14,500 for an individual)...What the Supreme Court said today was: States do not have to participate in that part of the law. If they want to leave their Medicaid program as is, there will not be a penalty. What was once a guaranteed insurance expansion is now left to the discretion of the states." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

@CitizenCohn: Re: Medicaid provision, I predict folks like Rick Perry & Rick Scott will turn down money -- then (very) quietly accept it ...

GAWANDE: The fight over healthcare is far from over. "For decades, there’s been wide support for universal health care. Finally, with the passage of Obamacare, two years ago, we did something about it. The law would provide coverage to people like those my friends told me about, either through its expansion of Medicaid eligibility or through subsidized private insurance. Yet the country has remained convulsed by battles over whether we should implement this plan--or any particular plan. Now that the Supreme Court has largely upheld Obamacare, it’s tempting to imagine that the battles will subside. There’s reason to think that they won’t. In 1973, two social scientists, Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber, defined a class of problems they called 'wicked problems.' Wicked problems are messy, ill-defined, more complex than we fully grasp, and open to multiple interpretations based on one’s point of view. They are problems such as poverty, obesity, where to put a new highway--or how to make sure that people have adequate health care." Atul Gawande in The New Yorker.

KLEIN: Roberts' opinion was politically genius. "After Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes deftly beat back Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s court-packing proposal, FDR said, with grudging admiration, that Hughes was the best politician in the country...I doubt Roberts wants to be known for his political skills, either. But in today’s decision, he showed that, like Hughes before him, he’s got those skills in spades...The 5-4 language suggests that Roberts agreed with the liberals. But for the most part, he didn’t. If you read the opinions, he sided with the conservative bloc on every major legal question before the court...By voting with the conservatives on every major legal question before the court, he nevertheless furthered the major conservative projects before the court -- namely, imposing limits on federal power. And by securing his own reputation for impartiality, he made his own advocacy in those areas much more effective." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

KRUGMAN: This is a win for ordinary people. "The real winners are ordinary Americans -- people like you. How many people are we talking about? You might say 30 million, the number of additional people the Congressional Budget Office says will have health insurance thanks to Obamacare. But that vastly understates the true number of winners because millions of other Americans -- including many who oppose the act -- would have been at risk of being one of those 30 million. So add in every American who currently works for a company that offers good health insurance but is at risk of losing that job (and who isn’t in this world of outsourcing and private equity buyouts?); every American who would have found health insurance unaffordable but will now receive crucial financial help; every American with a pre-existing condition who would have been flatly denied coverage in many states...The winners from that Supreme Court decision are your friends, your relatives, the people you work with -- and, very likely, you." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

BARNETT: Federalism won by losing. "Today, the Roberts Court reaffirmed the 'first principle' announced by Chief Justice Rehnquist some 17 years ago in Lopez: the federal government is one of limited and enumerated powers. It accepted all of our arguments about why the individual insurance mandate exceeded the commerce power: 'The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause,' wrote Chief Justice Roberts. 'That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it.' Then the Court went farther to invalidate the withholding of existing Medicaid funding as coercive, thereby finding an enforceable limit on the Spending Power...Academics are sure to react to today’s decision by declaring the New Federalism dead, but they would be wrong to do so. The Founders’ scheme of limited and enumerated powers has survived to fight another day." Randy Barnett in SCOTUSblog.

LEVIN: The new version of Obamacare is even worse. "Left alone, the law will spend well over a trillion dollars in the coming decade on yet another health-care entitlement program and on the expansion of existing entitlements, micromanage the insurance industry in ways likely to make it even less efficient, employ even heavier price controls of the sort that have always failed in Medicare, and raise half a trillion dollars in taxes on employment, investment, and medical research. And now we know that its tax bill will be even higher than we thought, and that its reduction of the uninsured even smaller...The law as the Supreme Court has rewritten it today would not have passed. It contains all of the many grave flaws that have made Obamacare so unpopular, and fewer of the elements that finally persuaded some wavering Democrats to hold their noses and vote for it. The case for repealing the law is thus stronger than ever." Yuval Levin in National Review.

DENNISTON: There may be a big hole the safety net now. "The modern welfare state, one in which a socially sensitive Congress has been eager to soothe the pangs of poverty, hunger, disease and aging, has created a huge safety net, but people keep falling through it...The question, in the wake of Thursday’s compromise decision by the Supreme Court, salvaging a part of Congress’s massive expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor, is whether a gaping new hole has been opened in that net. If there is a hole, huge or less so, it has a name: the 'coercion' theory. Seven Justices of the Supreme Court, rescuing that theory from the back of history’s closet where it has remained totally unused, embraced at least a version of the idea that Congress can make life so tough for its state partners in a joint social welfare program that it violates the Constitution. In the form outlined in the opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., it can be thought of properly as a new doctrine of states’ rights, or of federalism." Lyle Denniston in SCOTUSblog.

YGLESIAS: He could do a lot of damage to Obamacare. "The Supreme Court’s decision to let the core elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act stand kicks the fate of the Obama administration’s signature initiative where it properly belongs--into the domain of politics--where a Romney administration would still have ample opportunity to dismantle the main elements of the law. One thing President Romney probably couldn’t do, however, would be the politically expedient step of simply repealing the legally controversial and politically unpopular fine levied on people who decline to purchase health insurance...Scrapping the law, in other words, should be a pretty easy lift for Republicans--if they win the election. But if they lose, as provisions of the law roll out during Obama’s second term, they’re likely to find that it’s very difficult to take popular benefits away from people who already have them. By declining to do Republican politicians’ work for them, in other words, John Roberts just made 2012 a very consequential election." Matthew Yglesias in Slate.

Top op-eds

1) NORRIS: Money market funds are a tale of regulation gone wrong. "They are called money market funds, and they have $2.5 trillion in assets. Mary Schapiro, the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is trying to impose some regulations to treat such funds a little more like banks...The S.E.C. is expected to seek comment soon on possible new rules, but it is far from clear that Ms. Schapiro can prevail. Three of the other four commissioners have voiced sympathy for the money market fund industry. She would need at least three votes, including her own, to pass a rule. If the S.E.C. does act, there will be efforts to get Congress or the courts to overrule it. The very existence of the money market fund industry is a tribute to foolish regulation decades ago, when banks were prohibited from offering competitive rates on savings accounts. Now, with rates very low, it is almost impossible to make money running a money market fund, but the fund groups want to stay in the business." Floyd Norris in The New York Times.

2) WEIL: Banks are fudging their numbers. "The Bank for International Settlements, which acts as a bank for the world’s central banks, should know fudged numbers when it sees them. What may come as a surprise is how openly it has been discussing the problem of bogus balance sheets at large financial companies. 'The financial sector needs to recognize losses and recapitalize,' the Basel, Switzerland-based institution said in its latest annual report, released this week. 'As we have urged in previous reports, banks must adjust balance sheets to accurately reflect the value of assets.' The implication is that many banks are showing inaccurate numbers now...At some point, the cycle will break, only nobody knows when. This you can count on: It will take more than subtle inducements to make banks fess up to all their losses. Prosecutors must have a role. There’s nothing like the threat of a courtroom trial to focus a bank executive’s mind. The risk just has to be real." Jonathan Weil in Bloomberg.

3) WOOD: Germany shouldn't pay to save the euro. "Germany keeps being told that it must pay up to save the euro. But how much can Germany pay? No one seems to have thought about that, but there is already concern about the possible size of the bill. German bond yields rose soon after news of the Spanish bailout, even before it was announced where the money was going to come from...There is though a more basic question. How much does it make sense for Germany to pay? What sort of bill would it be reasonable to present to them? In fact the best approximation one can arrive at is a bill of zero. Why zero? What about all these exports that have been produced because Germany has a currency whose value is determined not just by Germany but also by less productive, higher cost, economies? That link has artificially depressed the prices of German exports. These net exports resulting from Germany’s eurozone membership are actually the problem." Geoffrey Wood in The Financial Times.

4) JOHNSON: The Fed's governance still needs reform. "First and most important, why didn’t Mr. Dimon step down from the board of the New York Fed in March 2008, when JPMorgan Chase bought Bear Stearns with financial support provided, in part, by the Fed? This transaction fundamentally transformed the relationship of Mr. Dimon and the New York Fed. It is awkward for any director to enter into a significant commercial transaction with an organization that he or she is charged with overseeing. This was a significant transaction for Mr. Dimon, representing a big expansion of his business. It was also a significant transaction for the Federal Reserve...If the intent and letter of the Federal Reserve Act are being followed in some ways and not in others - without proper notification to Congress or written rules available to the public explaining exemptions and exceptions - how exactly does this help maintain the legitimacy of the Federal Reserve System?" Simon Johnson in The New York Times.

5) BUSSEY: Companies are stockpiling cash out of fear. "Here's one way to explain the record stacks of cash that companies have amassed: Just as courage imperils life, fear protects it. Actually, that line is said to be Leonardo da Vinci's. But if you spend any time with chief financial officers, you'll hear the same admonition in one form or another. The billions in cash they've socked away is a good measure of what global business thinks about our times. It isn't pretty. And, despite what some suggest, it doesn't appear to be guided by greed or complacency. Instead, fear rules the day. Arguably too much so...Martin Sorrell, the CEO of the advertising firm WPP, believes companies are simply sitting on too much cash. 'You have to be prepared to take the risks,' he argues. 'There's too much conservatism.' But in this instance, Mr. Sorrell might as well be a beer salesman at a temperance rally. Prudence is in. So too caution." John Bussey in The Wall Street Journal.

Irish folk interlude: Damien Rice plays "Rootless Tree" live on From the Basement.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Still to come:Europe makes a deal; worldwide health spending growth slowed; pension funds earned record returns; the highway bill should get a vote today; and a the best literal tribute to Ace of Base you've ever seen.


It's a deal: Germany agreed to let bailout funds go directly to Spanish banks. "Eurozone leaders agreed to radically restructure Spain’s €100bn bank recapitalisation plan, allowing EU bailout funds to eventually be injected directly into teetering Spanish financial institutions, meaning Madrid can sweep the burden of the bailouts off its sovereign books. The change, agreed as part of a deal struck in the early hours of Friday morning, will not happen immediately, however. Instead the leaders agreed it would come only after the eurozone set up a single banking supervisor to be run by the European Central Bank...Under revised rules demanded by Italy, countries that want the eurozone bailout fund to purchase their bonds - an essential way of lowering their borrowing costs - will no longer be subject to Greek-style monitoring programmes. Instead, they would simply have to maintain their EU debt and deficit commitments, though EU authorities could mandate tighter deadlines and timetables." Peter Spiegel and Joshua Chaffin in The Financial Times.

@Neil_Irwin: The overnight deal on Euro bank bailouts may be better news for Obama reelection than the Supreme Court decision.

@ObsoleteDogma: Italy & Spain have leverage over Germany. Greece, Ireland & Portugal didn't. It's that simple. Merkel will keep blinking.

JP Morgan Chase's loss could reach $9 billion. "Losses on JPMorgan Chase’s bungled trade could total as much as $9 billion, far exceeding earlier public estimates, according to people who have been briefed on the situation. When Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive, announced in May that the bank had lost $2 billion in a bet on credit derivatives, he estimated that losses could double within the next few quarters. But the red ink has been mounting in recent weeks, as the bank has been unwinding its positions, according to interviews with current and former traders and executives at the bank who asked not to be named because of investigations into the bank. The bank’s exit from its money-losing trade is happening faster than many expected. JPMorgan previously said it hoped to clear its position by early next year; now it is already out of more than half of the trade and may be completely free this year." Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Susanne Craig in The New York Times.

Regulators are investigating the bank's risk models. "Regulators have stepped up scrutiny of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s internal controls by asking the bank to demonstrate that its risk models are designed and working properly, according to people close to the situation. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the bank's primary regulator, has requested reviews of models that measure the possible effects of everything from trading losses to interest-rate moves, the people said. A change in one of these models contributed to losses in the bank's Chief Investment Office, a once-obscure unit that manages $370 billion in excess cash. The change effectively increased the amount of risk traders were allowed to take...The OCC has since April of last year required all banks it regulates to put together reviews and justifications of these types of models. It doesn't require banks to submit them unless they are specifically requested, as they have been in the case of J.P. Morgan." Julie Steinberg and Dan Fitzpatrick in The Wall Street Journal.

New economic numbers are a mixed bag. "U.S. exports and consumer spending were weaker in the first three months of the year than previously thought, but business spending was higher, new data show....The Commerce Department confirmed Thursday its previous estimate that the nation's gross domestic product--the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S.--grew at an annual rate of 1.9% in the first quarter. That was down from a 3.0% rate in the fourth quarter of 2011. But details changed, the government's third and final estimate of first-quarter growth showed. Exports, a key source of strength during the recovery, grew at a 4.2% annual rate instead of a previously reported 7.2%. Consumer spending--which accounts for more than two-thirds of economic demand in the U.S.--grew by 2.5%, instead of 2.7%...However, those downgrades were offset by revisions showing stronger business spending and weaker import growth." Josh Mitchell and Eric Morath in The Wall Street Journal.

@JustinWolfers: I haven't said this in a while: Today's economic numbers were slightly stronger than anticipated.

Corporate profits fell for the first time since the recession began. "Like employment, corporate profits plummeted during the financial crisis; but unlike employment, profits bounced back almost as quickly as they had fallen...Corporate profits declined last quarter, ticking down by $6.4 billion or 0.3 percent in seasonally adjusted annual terms. A small decline, yes, but it was also the first decline since the fourth quarter of 2008, when the great recession was still raging. Given the cushion of cash that companies accumulated in the last three years, last quarter’s decline probably didn’t break the bank for too many companies. However, it will probably make companies even more fearful about expanding. Interestingly, profits fell entirely because of declines in foreign markets, not because of business problems at home. Profits from domestic business rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $41.7 billion in the first quarter, while the rest-of-the-world component of profits decreased $48.1 billion." Catherine Rampell in The New York Times.

Swedish pop tribute interlude: A cover of Ace of Base's "The Sign" using five acoustic upright basses.

Health Care

Growth in health spending slowed worldwide. "Growth in health spending reversed a long-term trend of rapid increase and either slowed or fell in real terms in most OECD countries in 2010, driven by cuts among governments imposing austerity budgets, data showed on Thursday. Overall health spending grew by nearly 5 percent a year in real terms in the 34 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) between 2000-2009, but this was followed by zero growth in 2010. In its Health Data 2012 report, the OECD also said preliminary figures for a limited number of countries suggest there was little or no growth in health spending in 2011. 'The halt in total health spending in 2010 was driven by a fall of 0.5 percent in public spending for health, following an increase of over 5 percent per year in 2008 and 2009,' the report said. It found that while government health spending tended to be maintained at the start of the economic crisis, cuts really began to bite in 2010." Kate Kelland in Reuters.

Domestic Policy

Public pension funds earned record returns in Q1. "US state and local government public pension funds earned record returns on their investments in the first quarter of the year, according to official data that may ease fears about whether they will be able to pay retirees in future. The 100 biggest public-employee retirement systems in the US earned $179bn in the quarter, according to the Census Bureau, the highest earnings on investments since records began in 1974. Total holdings and investments increased by 5.6 per cent from the prior quarter, to $2.8tn from $2.6tn. The data reveal that the funds dumped corporate bonds while snapping up international and US government securities. Pension funds’ holdings of international securities reached their highest level in 12 years, rising to $550bn from $473bn in the prior quarter, while holdings of US federal government securities hit an 11-year high, increasing 25 per cent from the prior quarter to $223.5bn." Hal Weitzman in The Financial Times.

Some are upset by a compromise on flood insurance. "The National Flood Insurance Program extension that was crammed into the highway funding and student loan compromise legislation late on Wednesday has left some senators fuming. The bill does not reflect a tentative compromise on amendments worked out in the Senate. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) took to the Senate floor Thursday to say that she opposes the NFIP reauthorization and would have voted against the bill if the highway and student loan provisions had not been packaged together with it...Last week Landrieu and Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and David Vitter (R-La.) struck a compromise on an issue related to how insurance treats homes in areas covered by government levees, with the heads of the Senate Banking Committee...Sources said Thursday that the compromise, which was in a version of the conference report posted online Wednesday night, had been removed." Erik Wasson in The Hill.

Cephalopod cells interlude: The chromatophores of Longfin Inshore Squid in action.


The House is still aiming to vote on the highway bill today. "It’s been a hard road. First, the transportation bill conference report was delayed because it took forever to draft; now, it’s again been delayed over drafting errors and Democrats’ reluctance to sign it. But Republicans were still signaling confidence in a Friday vote. The conference report still hadn’t been filed in the House as of early Thursday evening, but all indications were that enough lawmakers had signed off on the deal so forward movement is just a matter of time...Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) told POLITICO that the committee would most likely meet Thursday evening, some time following the congressional baseball game, in order to prepare a rule for floor consideration on Friday. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was still trying to figure out how to move the transportation bill along with student loan and flood insurance in the package." Kathryn Wolfe and Burgess Everett in Politico.

A bill with cuts to the EPA is headed to the House floor. "The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday sent a bill slashing funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the House floor for consideration on a 26-19 vote. The bill would cut the EPA budget by $1.4 billion. The overall Interior, Environment bill would cut spending by $1.2 billion and it contains 31 riders, most of which limit the ability of the EPA to issue regulations...The bill coming out of subcommittee included riders that limit EPA's power to expand the scope of Clean Water Act oversight, and prevent the Interior Department from toughening regulation of mountaintop-removal coal mining. During a lengthy markup spread over two days, committee Republicans added 11 riders to the bill. One, inserted by Rep. Steve Austria (R-Ohio) would prohibit EPA from finalizing greenhouse regulations on cars for model years after 2017." Erik Wasson in The Hill.

Congressional backers will continue to push Keystone XL. "Don’t think for a moment that congressional supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline are through pushing their cause on Capitol Hill. 'This is not the last you’ve heard of this issue,' one senior Senate GOP aide said. 'Not by a long shot.' The pipeline didn’t make the cut for the House-Senate transportation deal...Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said Wednesday that he is 'poised and ready to pounce' on the next bill to which he can attach authorization of the pipeline. A mix-up over amendment language robbed Terry and other House Republicans of an opportunity last week to attach language approving the pipeline to a broader House energy strategy. House lawmakers have voted to approve the pipeline multiple times already this Congress. But dropping Keystone from the transportation bill means the pipeline won’t be part of one of the few remaining must-pass measures this year -- at least before the November election." Darren Goode and Andrew Restuccia in Politico.

Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Karl Singer and Michelle Williams.