Senate Likely To Vote This Evening On Extending Extra Medicaid Funds

CongressDaily: "The Senate votes tonight on a cloture motion on a $26.1 billion domestic spending package that includes $10 billion in funding to avert teacher layoffs and $16.1 billion in Medicaid aid by extending Federal Medical Assistance Percentage reimbursements. That vote is a nod to House Democrats who are irked that senators stripped the funding from other bills and to governors who are lobbying for the funds" (Friedman, 8/2).

Politico: The White House is making a last-minute push for the amendment. "Last year's giant Recovery Act helped fill this gap, but as these stimulus funds run out, Democrats fear more state layoffs, beginning with teachers just months before November elections. ... The package, which has received little attention to date, was filed only last Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in what seemed more an effort then to disentangle the teacher-Medicaid issues from a small business bill, which the White House wants badly. Monday's vote to cut off debate will require 60 votes—a high bar to meet and one that will require Republican help" (Rogers, 8/2).

CQ: An administration official was making last-minute calls Monday "in the lead-up to an evening vote on a stand-alone bill to extend increased Medicaid payments to states and provide $10 billion for educators' jobs."  The measure, with a $26.1 billion price tag, contains the Medicaid and education provisions that were "struck a from other bills despite heavy lobbying by state and local officials." Senate Democrats are seeking to draw the support of every member of their caucus as well as independents and at least one Republican to meet the 60 votes needed to "invoke cloture and limit debate" by "fully offsetting the cost ... through revenue raisers and spending cuts elsewhere." The bill "would provide $16.1 billion for a six-month extension of increased federal Medicaid aid to states that would be phased out gradually, following a recommendation made by Collins. The increased aid, provided in the 2009 stimulus law (PL 111-5), expires Dec. 31, 2010 — halfway through the fiscal year of most states" (Smith, 8/2).

The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: "Democrats sought Monday to pressure Senate Republicans ahead of an expected vote on a state aid bill. ... The Senate will likely attempt to move forward with the bill ... as it begins its last week of action before members leave for August's congressional recess. The state aid bill will need the support of at least one Republican to get the 59 votes to advance — assuming Democrats don't lose some of their own votes. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has sided with the GOP on many similar economic packages." The Democratic National Committee is lending political reinforcements to try to help shore up backer (O'Brien, 8/2).

Congress Daily, in a separate story: Though the outcome remains unclear, Democrats appear poised for a loss. "Senate Majority Leader Reid's communications office said 'Republicans are looking to head into August' by trying to kill the bill and other measures" (Friedman and Harder, 8/2).

Meanwhile, states continue to wait.

Highlands Today: "Uncle Sam never said the check was in the mail, but Florida legislators are still waiting for about $1 billion in extra Medicaid money that's stalled in the U.S. Senate. … The federal government could still act, but State Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid, doesn't anticipate that until after November. ... Earlier this year, Gov. Charlie Crist was so confident that Florida would get the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage money that he proposed it in his budget, Health News Florida reported… Lawmakers marked $230 million for hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, Bright Futures Scholarships, Everglades restoration and cancer research, contingent on the Medicaid money" (Pinnell, 8/2).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "If passed, Wisconsin would receive an additional $180 million in education funding and $185 million for the state's Medicaid program. The potential shortfall in the state's health-care programs for the poor, elderly and disabled has grown to as much as $850 million in state and federal money, threatening to throw the entire state budget out of balance. The bill extension would provide an additional $185 million to Wisconsin's Medicaid program for the six months from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2011" (Jones, 8/1).

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