Early last night, the Senate rejected by a 57-40 vote Senator Paul Ryan’s budget that was previously passed in the House, and which would have block granted Medicaid, voucherized the Medicare program, and made staggering cuts to health programs generally. Significantly, five Republicans voted with the Democratic majority, in an important and symbolic victory for health care programs. (Note, however, that one of the five was Senator Rand Paul, who had put forth his own extreme budget proposal, and presumably voted against the Ryan proposal because its attempt to gut Medicaid and Medicare was just a little too progressive for his taste.)
Subsequent to the vote on the House Republican budget, President Obama’s budget was unanimously rejected by the Senate. This was not a surprising result, since the budget debate and even the President’s own position have shifted significantly since he first put forth his proposal.
The Senate also rejected two other Republican proposals. The proposal from Senator Rand Paul, which is best described as ultra-conservative even by House Republican standards, was defeated by a 90-7 vote. Perhaps the most important result of the night, however, was the 55-42 vote against a proposal from Republican Senator Pat Toomey, which would have avoided the unpopular Medicare voucherization plan but would have otherwise drastically cut health care spending. The rejection of the Toomey budget is significant precisely in that this budget sought to avoid the Medicare controversy and thus appear ‘moderate’, despite the fact it would lead to cuts larger than the House Republican budget. (And note, the Toomey budget vote was the closest of the night).
Our friends at the Center Budget and Policy Priorities have prepared an excellent report explaining the Toomey budget proposal, how it would block grant Medicaid, and could lead to even greater health care cuts than the Ryan plan. The report is available at: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3504&emailView=1
Below you will find the text of an article from Politico, describing last night’s breathe-a-sigh-of-relief votes.
Leonardo D. Cuello
National Health Law Program
1444 Eye Street NW, Suite 1105
Washington DC, 20005