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Trump questions GOP idea, adding chaos ahead of shutdown deadline

Donald Trump has an unfortunate habit of stepping on his own party's plans. It happened again this morning.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the East Room of the White House January 10, 2018 in...

House Republican leaders were already facing a challenge. With timing running out ahead of tomorrow night's shutdown deadline, GOP officials crafted a stopgap spending plan that would keep the government's lights on for a month, while also extending the Children's Health Insurance Program and delaying some taxes in the Affordable Care Act.

The plan, which has faced some far-right opposition, has been to pass this temporary spending measure -- called a "continuing resolution" (or CR) -- and see what the Senate does with it. What no one expected was for Donald Trump to publicly question a core element of the plan.

As Republicans in Congress scrambled Thursday to put together a short-term funding bill to avoid a government shutdown, President Donald Trump threw a new wrinkle into the mix, saying an extension of the children's health care insurance program should not be part of it. [...]The measure would extend the low-income children's health insurance program for six years while delaying some key Obamacare taxes for two years. But the president's tweet on Thursday called that effort into question when he said a CHIP extension should not be part of a short-term bill.

So, the House Republican plan is to include CHIP as part of a short-term extension. The Republican president, however, tweeted this morning, "CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!"

There's some debate as to what exactly Trump was trying to say -- as of this minute, there's been no follow-up tweet -- but at face value, it looks like the president isn't on board with his own party's solution, which was already struggling to shore up the votes to pass.

What precipitated this is unclear -- with Trump, it's often hard to guess -- but just as importantly, what House Republican leaders intend to do about this is equally murky.

"Frankly nobody knows what the heck he is arguing for," a GOP congressional source told  The Daily Beast.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) told Bloomberg Politics, in reference to the president, "He needs to wake up."

As best as I can tell, the House Republicans' plan is to move forward anyway, holding a vote on their CR later today, and sending it to the Senate. To pass, it'll need to clear a 60-vote hurdle, which appears quite unlikely. In fact, I'm not convinced it even has 50 votes -- Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) have both indicated they're prepared to vote against the stopgap measure, at least in its current form.

Even if they fail to follow through, and I'm skeptical they will, Republicans will need to find nine Senate Dems willing to go along with the conservative House bill, and as things stand, they're nowhere close.

In case this isn't obvious, the deadline is tomorrow at midnight.

Postscript: Today isn't the first time Trump has used Twitter to step on his own party's ideas. It happened when the GOP tax plan was coming together, and just last week, the president briefly opposed his own administration's surveillance policy before he walked it back.

Update: A White House spokesperson told Roll Call that the president does, in fact, support the House bill, his tweet this morning notwithstanding.