2016 GOP Hopefuls Split as Senate Sends Doc-Fix Bill to Obama

Cruz and Rubio oppose the Medicare-reform bill that’s set to become law.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (C), Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) (R), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) (L) speak to members of the media after a vote on the Senate floor September 27, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate has passed a continuing resolution 54-44 to fund the government through November 15 with the exclusion of defunding the Obama care in which the provision was passed in the House.
National Journal
April 14, 2015, 6:39 p.m.

The Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors angling to be­come the party’s next pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate had the op­por­tun­ity to vote on a ma­jor en­ti­tle­ment-re­form bill Tues­day—and they were di­vided over it, open­ing the door for the is­sue to make an ap­pear­ance in the primary cam­paign.

The Sen­ate over­whelm­ingly ap­proved the per­man­ent Medi­care doc-fix bill, 92-8, and the White House has in­dic­ated that Pres­id­ent Obama will sign the bill, which would put an end to one of Con­gress’s most-hated rituals.

The nas­cent GOP primary field split evenly. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida voted against the bill. Sens. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky and Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Car­o­lina—who is the only one of the four not to form­ally an­nounce his ex­pec­ted can­did­acy yet—voted for it.

The con­tenders didn’t seem eager to dis­cuss the le­gis­la­tion; Cruz was the only one to is­sue a pub­lic state­ment be­fore the vote. The oth­er three sen­at­ors’ of­fices did not re­spond to mul­tiple re­quests for com­ment be­fore or after the vote.

Cruz de­rided the bill for not be­ing fully paid for, cit­ing an es­tim­ate that it could add as much as $500 bil­lion to the fed­er­al de­fi­cit in the next 20 years. Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice score, the bill is ex­pec­ted to cost about $210 bil­lion in the next 10 years, with $70 bil­lion dir­ectly off­set through cuts to pro­viders and be­ne­fi­ciar­ies.

“While I ap­pre­ci­ate the work done by my col­leagues in the House, I can­not sup­port the Boehner-Pelosi bill, which in­sti­tu­tion­al­izes and ex­pands Obama­care policies that harm pa­tients and their doc­tors while adding roughly half a tril­lion dol­lars to our long-term debt with­in two dec­ades,” Cruz said.

Cruz, Ru­bio, and Paul all backed an amend­ment from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that would have re­quired the bill’s full costs to be off­set; Gra­ham op­posed it. The amend­ment, pushed by de­fi­cit hawks un­happy about the bill’s costs, failed.

All four sen­at­ors voted for an amend­ment to pay for the bill by re­peal­ing Obama­care’s in­di­vidu­al man­date, though it failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass.

The doc fix, ne­go­ti­ated by House Speak­er John Boehner and Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, per­man­ently re­peals the Medi­care “sus­tain­able growth rate” for­mula, which routinely threatened 20-per­cent pay cuts to doc­tors un­less Con­gress fixed it once or twice a year. It also sets up a trans­ition to per­form­ance-based Medi­care pay­ments to doc­tors.

The meas­ure re­forms Medi­care in sev­er­al oth­er ways, en­act­ing a de­duct­ible for Medigap plans and ex­pand­ing means-test­ing for Medi­care’s out­pa­tient and drug pro­grams. Cost be­came an is­sue dur­ing the con­gres­sion­al de­bate. Sup­port­ers as­sert it will pay for it­self in the long term, but op­pon­ents ar­gued that it would add even more to the de­fi­cit across a longer timeline.

Boehner touted the bill as the “first real en­ti­tle­ment re­form in nearly two dec­ades” after it passed the House with 392 votes last month.

What We're Following See More »
STILL NO PAY
Trump Calls 50,000 Feds Back to Work
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Trump administration on Tuesday said it has called back tens of thousands of federal workers to fulfill key government tasks, including disbursing tax refunds, overseeing flight safety and inspecting the nation’s food and drug supply, as it seeks to blunt the impact of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The nearly 50,000 furloughed federal employees are being brought back to work without pay — part of a group of about 800,000 federal workers who are not receiving paychecks during the shutdown."

Source:
UNTIL SHUTDOWN IS RESOLVED
Pelosi Asks Trump to Postpone SOTU
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
RESOLUTION PASSES 424-1
House Votes to Condemn Rep. King for Racist Comments
19 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The House voted overwhelmingly to rebuke GOP Rep. Steve King for making racist comments in a recent interview. The rare resolution of disapproval, which included a broad denunciation of white supremacist and white nationalist movements, was passed on a 424-1 vote. But some House Democrats argue the move doesn't go far enough and are pushing censure motions against the Iowa Republican."

Source:
SAYS HE WAS MISQUOTED
Steve King Will Vote For Resolution
20 hours ago
THE LATEST
CANNOT BE PAID DURING SHUTDOWN
Judge Rules Against Air Traffic Controllers
21 hours ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login