On May 16, 2012, the Senate failed to pass five different budget
proposals, thus ensuring Congress will not enact a budget this
year. Congressional budgets are non-binding documents and as such
do not require the President's approval. This is by no means
the first time in recent history where Congress has failed to pass
a budget, though the failure of chambers to do so often makes for
good political theater. Here's a summary of the five proposals
that failed to garner enough support to proceed:
In a highly political move, Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff
Session's (R-AL) offered a version of President's
Obama's budget, which failed by a vote of 0-99 (roll call vote). In March during the
deliberations of the House Budget, Rep. Mulvaney (R-SC) offered a
similar amendment which failed by a 0-414 vote (roll call vote).
On March 29, 2012, by a vote of 228-191 (roll call vote) the House passed a budget
authored by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). This budget would
repeal the Affordable Care Act and provided for an overhaul of the
Medicare and Medicaid programs. Under the Ryan Budget, the Medicare
program would be transitioned into a "premium support"
model where private companies would compete against traditional
fee-for-service Medicare and beneficiaries would receive a
risk-adjusted subsidy to help pay for their coverage. The Medicaid
program would be converted into a block grant program.
As part of their budget votes, the Senate brought up the
House-passed budget, which failed by a 41-58 vote (roll call vote), with five Republicans joining
all Democrats in rejecting the budget.
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) offered a budget proposal similar to
the proposal he offered last year. This year's proposal would
repeal the ACA and included some entitlement reforms including
means testing of the Medicare program, enacting a Medicare premium
support-model, and block granting the Medicaid program.
The Toomey budget failed by a vote of 42-57 (roll call vote), with all Democrats and four
Republicans voting against the measure.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) offered a budget proposal that would
balance the budget in five years by significantly reducing federal
spending. His budget proposal would repeal the Affordable Care Act
and block grant the Medicaid, SCHIP, food stamp, and child
nutrition programs. Under his proposal, the Medicare program would
be eliminated and replaced with a plan to provide subsidized health
care coverage to seniors.
Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Rand Paul
(R-KY) offered a conservative budget proposal modeled on the
Heritage Foundation's "Saving the American Dream"
plan. The proposal would repeal the Affordable Care Act and
replaced it with a tax credit individuals could use to purchase
health care. Medicare would be transformed into a defined
contribution premium support plan, Medicaid would be block-granted
and Social Security would be altered to provide an "income
adjusted" monthly benefit to recipients.
There has been plenty of speculation as to what will happen in the 114th US Congress, with the House and Senate both under Republican control and President Barack Obama in his last two years in office.
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