Yesterday, the Senate burned approximately 7.5 hours of debate time considering a package of fixes to the Senate health care bill, paving the way for a final vote before the end of the week. “Under reconciliation rules, the Senate will debate the fixes bill for 20 hours, then hold rapid-fire votes on amendments. That phase, being called a vote-a-rama, could begin as soon as Wednesday night and is likely to end sometime Friday,” the Washington Post explains.
Republicans are trying to delay the process, which would remove some of the “special deals” they have rallied against, by offering numerous amendments and challenging the Senate parliamentarian to invalidate broad sections of the bill. Yesterday, GOP senators offered 5 different amendments relating to Medicare savings and tax increases, but the most heated dispute occurred over Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) proposal to eliminate so-called “sweetheart deals”"for Tennessee, Hawaii, Louisiana, Montana, Connecticut, and frontier States.”
At around 6pm, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) — who had asked for a provision that would have increased federal Medicaid matching fund for disaster areas — took to the floor to defend what McCain and the Republicans have dubbed the “Louisiana Purchase.” Landrieu explained that local Republican lawmakers openly asked for the provision to avert a scheduled cut in the federal Medicaid matching fund. Federal recovery dollars artificially inflated Louisiana’s income and led to an adjustment in the Medicaid funding formula, Landrieu said. As a result, the state is scheduled to receive less matching funds for the Medicaid program beginning in 2011:
LANDRIEU: I’d like to say this amendment is a stunt that really doesn’t deserve the time that I’m even going to give to explain the portion of it that refers to Louisiana. And the reason I say it’s a stunt is because it’s actually written for television or the internet. It’s not written for any serious debate here, and in my view, it is beneath the Senator from Arizona, who at one time was a candidate for president of this country. The reason I say it’s a stunt is because the words ‘sweetheart’ are actually written in this amendment.
Unfortunately, depriving hurricane survivors of health care funding isn’t the only “stunt” Republicans are pulling. The party has introduced numerous frivolous amendments to to delay the process. Consider these:
- To protect the democratic process and the right of the people of the District of Columbia to define marriage. (Bennett, #3568)
- To revoke the powers given the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Coburn, #3558)
- To require that each new bureaucrat added to any department or agency of the Federal Government for the purpose of implementing the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act be offset by a reduction of 1 existing bureaucrat at such department or agency. (Coburn, #3557)
- To reduce the cost of providing federally funded prescription drugs by eliminating fraudulent payments and prohibiting coverage of Viagra for child molesters and rapists and for drugs intended to induce abortion. (Coburn, #3556)
- To repeal the new $375 million program directing the very same Federal Government that has amassed a $12 trillion debt to lecture Americans about financial responsibility. (Coburn, #3563)
- Prohibiting use of funds to fund the Associate of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). (Vitter, #3554)
Lest you think Republicans are simply following McCain’s advise and retaliating against Democrats for passing health care reform, be advised that they’ve introduced identical amendments earlier last year. And then they wonder why the bill was passed on a partisan vote.