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Senate to Vote on Education Jobs, State Medicaid Funding Bill

Last night the Senate failed to reach agreement on a small business bill, most of the contents of which was written either by Republicans or on a bipartisan basis. So it does seem that Republicans have basically left the playing field and are sitting out the rest of the year until the elections.

Nevertheless, on Monday the Senate will vote on a bill that combines the $10 billion dollar education jobs fund that got bounced from the war supplemental, and a $16 billion dollar measure to help states with their Medicaid programs. The vehicle for this is a gutted FAA authorization bill (there will apparently be a separate FAA bill coming from the House later). These items are fully paid for, through some offsets that have not been fully explained to me. But the numbers go like this:

Revenue Offsets
Foreign Tax Credit Loophole Closers, $9.0 Billion

Spending Offsets
Medicaid Drug Pricing, $2.0 Billion
Spending Rescissions, $8.4 Billion
SNAP, $6.7 Billion

SNAP is the food stamp program. I know that the Obama Administration at one point suggested a drop in funding for this, but they justified it due to falling food prices. I have no idea about the details of these offsets, just these bullet points. Still working on that. But this is probably what it says it is, a straight cut to SNAP funding to pay for health care for the poor and teachers. Sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Point being, you will see a cloture vote on edujobs and state Medicaid funding, offset by these items, on Monday at 5pm. Also on Monday, Reid will file cloture on the energy bill, which has been criticized by Republicans (and also a couple Democrats), for a vote on Wednesday. They also hope to get back to the small business bill and file cloture if they can reach agreement on the number of amendments. And, they want to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

In a fiery memo, Reid spokesman Jim Manley detailed precisely what happened on the small business bill, which doesn’t give me much hope for the education/Medicaid state funding bill:

This week, Senate Democrats tried to move forward in a bipartisan manner on small business jobs legislation, however at each turn Senate Republicans rebuffed our efforts. For example:

1. Senate Republicans objected to the small business lending facility, so Senate Democrats took it out of the underlying bill and negotiated with Florida Republican Senator George Lemieux on an acceptable alternative. That wasn’t good enough.

2. Senate Republicans objected to agriculture disaster relief being added to the bill, even though it would have benefitted several members of their own caucus, so Senate Democrats took it out. That still wasn’t good enough.

3. Senate Republicans wanted to offer amendments to the bill ,so we agreed to their three top amendments and asked if we could offer three of our own. No, still not good enough.

Are you starting to see a pattern?

Somehow, I imagine that Republicans will find something not to like in a fully paid for bill for their states.

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David Dayen

David Dayen