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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sen. Toomey to Force Senate Vote on Budget

Toomey to force vote on Ryan budget
By Alexander Bolton - 04-18-12 06:16 PM ET
Congressional Republicans are coalescing around a plan for reforming Medicare sponsored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), an influential voice on budget issues in the Senate, adopted Ryan’s Medicare plan in the budget proposal he unveiled Wednesday.

He said he will force the Senate to vote on the proposal later this year by taking advantage of a rule that allows any senator to offer a budget if the Budget Committee fails to act.

Senate Democrats do not plan to schedule a vote on their own budget measure.

Last year, Toomey’s budget eschewed the controversial Medicare reforms included in the House Republicans’ fiscal year 2012 budget. He called for a 10-year, $300 billion fix to eliminate scheduled cuts in doctor payments but otherwise preserved Medicare’s status quo.

Toomey made a point Wednesday of reminding reporters that Ryan’s latest Medicare overhaul has bipartisan support.

“I think the evolution in the discussion about how we reform Medicare has gotten to the point where there is a really, really strong and now bipartisan proposal and so we’ve built that into our system, into our budget,” said Toomey.

Toomey praised Ryan’s plan to create a premium support plan to compete with government-run health insurance for seniors.

“The premium is determined by competitive bidding so it is not all the case that senior citizens would be at risk to escalating prices because the premium would be a function of whatever those prices are,” he said.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, voiced support for Toomey’s plan.

“I think it’s a strong budget, it balances in eight years, which is not easy to do, and would put the country on a sound financial path,” he said.

The Medicare reforms in the Ryan and Toomey budgets are based on a white paper Ryan and Wyden co-authored last year.

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