What: All Issues : Health Care : Medicare & Medicaid Funding : S Con Res 18. Fiscal 2006 Budget Resolution/Vote to Prevent Cuts to Medicaid and Create a Bipartisan Commission to Study the Medicaid Program. (2005 senate Roll Call 58)
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S Con Res 18. Fiscal 2006 Budget Resolution/Vote to Prevent Cuts to Medicaid and Create a Bipartisan Commission to Study the Medicaid Program.
senate Roll Call 58     Mar 17, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win
Qualifies as polarizing?
Yes
Is this vote crucial?
Yes

The annual congressional budget resolution provides a non-binding budgetary blueprint for taxing and spending goals for the upcoming year (and beyond). While the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) writes the initial budget blueprint, Congress is responsible for appropriating federal money. When the budget resolution contains policy changes to mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws), an optional process known as budget reconciliation can be utilized to achieve the taxing and spending goals of the budget resolution. Initially created to reduce budget deficits by allowing lawmakers to fine tune the budget resolution through additional legislation, the reconciliation process has been used in recent years to achieve policy changes in highly partisan areas. President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001, for instance, was adopted as a reconciliation bill. Reconciliation rules impose tight restrictions on debate and amendment and only 51 senators are required to pass a reconciliation bill. Moreover, unlike the budget resolution, a reconciliation bill has the force of law. In short, the reconciliation process is one of the few ways to prevent a Senate filibuster because debate on reconciliation bills is time limited and there is no supermajority vote requirement. During debate on the 2006 Budget Resolution, Senator Smith (R-OR) proposed an amendment which would prevent cuts to the Medicaid program using the reconciliation process. The amendment would also create a twenty-three member Bipartisan Medicaid Commission to study Medicaid before any cuts to the program are made. Progressives unanimously supported Smith's amendment based on their opposition to proposed cuts to the program advanced by the Bush Administration. In the view of Progressives, Medicaid serves a vital role in providing health coverage to low-income Americans, many of whom cannot receive health insurance from the private sector. According to Senator Corzine (D-NJ), "this amendment would ensure that policy drives Medicaid reform, not the arbitrary and unjustified cuts in this resolution." Conservatives objected to Smith's amendment on the grounds that the budget resolution would not cut Medicaid. Senator Alexander (R-TN) explained that "there is no cut-no cut, no cut-of any kind. Medicaid spending over the next 5 years will go up 41 percent if left alone. The Budget Committee recommends it go up 39 percent instead of 41 percent. Where I come from, that is no cut; that is a 39-percent increase in the amount of money." On a close vote of 52-48, the Smith amendment was adopted and the administration's proposed cuts to Medicaid could no longer be debated under reconciliation rules. Stated differently, any Medicaid cuts debated in 2006 would have to attract the necessary sixty votes in the Senate to overcome an almost certain filibuster.

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