Smith Says GOP Group Will Oppose Medicaid Budget Cuts
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) on Wednesday said at a news conference that he would vote against a final version of the 2006 Budget Reconciliation Act if it contains cuts to Medicaid and food stamp programs, the Oregonian reports. He added that he believes six other Republican senators who also oppose the cuts "will hold with" him (Walsh, Oregonian, 12/1). The Senate version of the bill (S 1932) includes about $10 billion in spending reductions to Medicare and Medicaid over five years (California Healthline, 11/4).
The House version (HR 4241) includes close to $50 billion in spending reductions, including about $12 billion in cuts to Medicaid over five years (California Healthline, 11/18). A joint conference committee is scheduled to negotiate a compromise between the two versions of the bill, which will then have to win approval from the Senate and House.
Smith said he had made his opposition to Medicaid cuts "entirely clear" to Senate Republican leaders. "The central strand in America's safety net is Medicaid, and it must not be weakened," Smith said, adding that his opposition to Medicaid and food stamp cuts is "the most important fight" he has been in during almost a decade in the Senate.
The Senate bill passed by five votes, "meaning Smith and his six GOP allies could hold the balance of power in deciding the outcome of the budget battle," the Oregonian reports (Oregonian, 12/1).