House Passes Measure to Protect Medicare Surplus
The House yesterday overwhelmingly passed a measure, on a 407-2 vote, that would prevent lawmakers from spending Social Security and Medicare surpluses on anything but "reducing the national debt or improving the programs themselves," the AP/Orange County Register reports. Under the measure (HR 2), lawmakers could challenge any bill that would spend the surpluses. However, the AP/Register reports that the bill draws Medicare into the current tax cut debate in Washington, as it "allows funds to be used to reform Medicare -- a move favored by the Republican leadership and opposed by Democrats who say it's a loophole for finding money for tax cuts." Although some Democrats "feared a vote against the measure would be viewed as opposition to protecting retirement funds," two Democrats -- Reps. Bob Filner (Calif.) and Jerrod Nadler (N.Y.) -- opposed the bill. The AP/Register reports that the House passed the "largely symbolic" bill last year, but it was then blocked by Senate Democrats and a veto threat from President Clinton (McQueen, AP/Orange County Register, 2/14).