GOP Seeks Vote on President Obama’s Initial FY 2012 Budget Outline
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he intends to force a preliminary vote on President Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget proposal that was issued in February, Politico reports.
Politico notes that Obama's February proposal has become somewhat outdated as a result of the deficit-reduction blueprint that he unveiled earlier this month.
McConnell's maneuver counters Senate Democrats' plans to hold a similar vote on the House-approved GOP FY 2012 budget resolution (H Con Res 34) when senators return from recess next week (Shiner, Politico, 4/28).
Details of GOP Proposal
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) confirmed that the Senate would vote on the House GOP plan, but he did not specify a timeline for the vote.
Reid said the vote would force Republicans to take a stance on the proposal, which has drawn mixed reactions from lawmakers. He added that the vote is essential to allow the debate on the budget to move toward a final compromise.
The GOP budget blueprint -- which House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled earlier this month -- would privatize Medicare by providing beneficiaries with fixed, lump-sum vouchers to purchase private health insurance, and give states fixed annual block grants of $11,000 per Medicaid beneficiary to use as they choose.
The proposal aims to cut $6 trillion in federal spending over the next decade and repeal and defund the federal health reform law. Although the Ryan plan was approved by the House, it is not likely to pass in Democrat-controlled Senate (California Healthline, 4/28).
McConnell Counters Reid on Vote; Sessions Welcomes Votes
On Thursday, McConnell said a vote on Obama's budget proposal will give Democrats "an opportunity to stand with the president in failing to address the problems facing our nation while calling for trillions in new spending, massive new debt and higher taxes on American energy, families and small businesses across the country" (Friel, CQ Today, 4/28).
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he welcomes the opportunity to vote on both the Ryan and Obama budget plans. Sessions added that Reid "made a serious miscalculation" by forcing a vote on the Ryan plan because it "draw[s] more attention to the fact that House Republicans have presented an honest, principled budget while the Democrat-led Senate has failed to pass a budget in more than 700 days" (Politico, 4/28).
Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he would push for a vote on other Democratic budget plans -- including the proposal put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which would balance the budget with tax hikes. Senate Democrats are unlikely to favor such proposals, according to National Journal (Friedman, National Journal, 4/28).
Democrats Call McConnell Vote Plan a 'Stunt'
A spokesperson for Reid responded to McConnell's push to schedule a vote on Obama's budget proposal, saying, "The president has already revised his budget proposal," adding, "This is little more than a stunt to distract from the fact the Senate Republicans will soon have to put on the record whether they support the House Republican plan to kill Medicare as we know it. They're afraid of this vote and, given how they are getting an earful in their districts, it's easy to understand why" (Politico, 4/28).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.