Proposed Medicare Cuts Excluded From Senate Budget Bill
Senate Budget Committee Chair Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) on Tuesday said he will not include President Bush's recommended cuts to Medicare and other entitlement programs in the committee's fiscal year 2007 budget bill because the proposals lack enough votes for passage, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports (Taylor, AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/8). Bush on Feb. 6 sent to Congress his FY 2007 budget proposal, which would reduce spending on entitlement programs by $65 billion over five years, including $37 billion in cuts to Medicare.
Gregg said, "We didn't have the votes on the floor" (Dennis/Evans, CQ Today, 3/7). He added, "I went to the chairmen of the committees which were responsible for reconciliation and all of them felt that in this climate it would be very difficult for them to do that."
Gregg is expected to introduce his budget blueprint on Wednesday and said it could be brought for a committee vote on Thursday (AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/8).
CQ Today reports that "hopes among fiscal conservatives for significant cuts" from entitlement programs "now rest with the House."
Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), whose committee has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid, said cuts to entitlement programs could still move forward through the House budget resolution. However, CQ Today reports that because "moderate Republicans have questioned moving forward with a package of budget cuts without bipartisan support in an election year," this scenario "appears unlikely."
House Budget Committee Chair Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) said, "We'll wait and see what happens in conference," adding, "We're not the Senate" (CQ Today, 3/8).
The House is unlikely to act on the FY 2007 budget until after St. Patrick's Day, according to several sources, CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 3/8).