Cheney, Most Republicans Vote to Starve the Poor
The bad news is Cheney flew home to cast the deciding vote on the $40 billion budget-cutting bill.
Fearing a close vote, Cheney cut short his Middle East trip yesterday and flew back to Washington overnight after five Republican senators signaled they would vote against the measure, possibly leading to a 50-50 tie.You might want to call the compassionate conservatives who voted against this bill and wish them a Merry Christmas: Susan M. Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island.
That turned out to be the case, as the five Republicans joined all 44 Democrats and one Democratic-leaning independent to oppose the hard-fought budget bill, which tackles the growth of entitlement programs such Medicaid and Medicare for the first time in nearly a decade.
The legislation would allow states to impose new fees on Medicaid recipients, cut federal child support enforcement funds, impose new work requirements on state welfare programs and squeeze student lenders.The good news is the Dems blocked the a bid to allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
According to budget experts, the bill would barely dent the federal deficit, cutting less than one-half of 1 percent from an estimated $14.3 trillion in federal spending over the next five years. Opponents said the poor would bear the brunt of the cuts -- especially to Medicaid, child support enforcement and foster care -- whereas original targets for belt-tightening, such as pharmaceutical companies and private insurers, largely escaped sanction.
The drilling provision is attached to the $453 billion defense budget for fiscal 2006, which passed the House Dec. 19. Democrats, with help from some Republicans, used a procedural tactic known as filibuster to block consideration of the bill.Send this to those who say there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans.
The 56-44 vote fell 4 votes short of the three-fifths margin needed to cut off debate. Republicans have 55 seats in the 100-member Senate.
The defense budget has $97 billion for military benefits and pay that includes a 3.1 percent salary increase. Also approved was $123 billion for operations and maintenance, $76.5 billion for procurement and $72.1 billion for research.
Republicans said it was appropriate to add the drilling provision to this budget because cutting dependence on foreign oil amounts to a national security issue. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat from Connecticut, accused Republicans of trying to "intimidate" opponents.
"It was wrong at the 11th hour to try and attach this energy and environment matter to a bill whose purpose was to provide funding support for the American military at a time of war," Lieberman said.