Budget Reconciliation Discussions Begin
House Budget Committee Chair Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) on Thursday after the House approval of the fiscal year 2007 budget resolution said that he will begin discussions with Senate Budget Committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) about reconciliation with the Senate budget resolution, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, an agreement between the House and Senate on a budget resolution "appears out of reach ... because of significant differences in funding priorities."
The Senate budget resolution would exceed a discretionary spending cap requested by President Bush by $16 billion; the House budget resolution would meet the cap but add $7 billion in discretionary spending from other areas of the budget (Murray, Washington Post, 5/19). Bush praised the House budget resolution (Fagan, Washington Times, 5/19).
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "We're hopeful the Senate will take the House budget resolution and see fit to pass it as is." Boehner added, "Getting a responsible budget between the two bodies is our goal." In a statement, Gregg said that the House budget resolution "reins in federal spending and reduces the federal debt -- important elements to keeping the economy on stable footing."
However, CQ Today reports that "there is relatively little incentive to reach a budget deal this year" (Dennis, CQ Today, 5/18).
In related news, 82 House Republicans in a letter asked HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to not implement provisions in the FY 2007 budget proposed by Bush that would reduce Medicaid spending by $12.2 billion over five years, CQ HealthBeat reports. The provisions include limits on Medicaid reimbursements to health care providers and a reduction of the allowable provider tax rate from 6% to 3%.
In the letter, the lawmakers said that such provisions "do not get at the root causes of entitlement growth and would seriously disrupt financing of Medicaid programs around the country." They added, "The magnitude and scope of such proposals are such that input from Congress, states, health care providers and patient groups is essential in order to avoid serious, unintended consequences" (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 5/18).