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House Passes Heavily Scaled-Back Jobs Bill By Cutting COBRA and Medicaid Aid

The House of Representatives passed a jobs bill shorn of multiple stimulative efforts today, barely getting enough votes from Blue Dogs more concerned about short-term deficits and political considerations than public health. In order to ensure passage, House Democrats took out an extension of the 65% COBRA study and funding for the states for Medicaid. Progressive Democrats tried to object to the rule bringing the bill to the floor, but their protest fell just short, with 36 Democrats opposing.

The House split the bill into two parts, one with emergency spending – basically, a 19-month “doc fix” for Medicare reimbursement – and one, an offset bill which includes expiring tax break extensions, a 6-month extension in unemployment insurance (though not the creation of a new Tier of funding), infrastructure and youth summer job funding, and a grab bag of other measures, paid for by a four-fold increase in the tax paid by oil companies for spill cleanup, and the closing of loopholes for wealthy money managers (the “carried interest” loophole) and companies that store profits overseas.

The first portion, with the offset spending, passed 215-204. The second portion, with the doc fix, passed as well (they’re still voting, but they’ve crossed the 217 vote line ensuring passage). UPDATE: It passed 241-171.

The Senate plans to take up these two bills, now, after the one-week Memorial Day recess. Jobless Americans who wanted to keep their old health insurance with their 65% COBRA subsidy, or poor Americans who hoped that their states would get a boost for Medicaid so they could qualify, won’t be so lucky. Surely the Blue Dogs will sleep well anyway.

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David Dayen

David Dayen