Daschle Schedules ‘Showdown Vote’ on Economic Stimulus Bill
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) yesterday scheduled a cloture vote on Wednesday to end debate on an economic stimulus bill, a move that could "determine the fate" of the legislation, the AP/Nando Times reports (Anderson, AP/Nando Times, 2/4). The Senate has been debating a compromise bill that Daschle introduced last month but has "made little progress." Daschle yesterday filed a cloture motion -- which requires 60 votes to pass -- to end debate on the legislation and bring it to a vote. According to Daschle, if the motion "fails to get the required 60 votes," he will have to "pull the bill" from the Senate floor, which would "effectively mean there would be no stimulus bill in the short term" (Earle/Norton, CongressDaily/AM, 2/5). The legislation, a "slimmed-down version" of an economic stimulus bill that Senate Democrats proposed last year, does not include a provision in the original bill to help unemployed workers purchase health insurance through COBRA. COBRA, the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, allows unemployed workers to retain health coverage under their former employers' insurance plans by paying 102% of the premiums. The bill does include "money to help the states cope with rising costs in Medicaid" and a number of provisions targeted at unemployed workers and businesses (American Health Line, 1/23). Daschle said Republicans -- who largely support a House-passed bill that would provide tax credits to help unemployed workers buy health insurance, among other tax provisions -- were trying to "add too many long-term, costly amendments" to the plan, the AP/Nando Times reports. "We don't need to be on an economic stimulus bill for three weeks," he said. The AP/Nando Times reports, however, that some Republicans are "already moving on" as signs indicate the recession may be ending, saying that if a stimulus bill fails to pass, the unspent money could help Congress balance the budget this year (AP/Nando Times, 2/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.