212 House Republicans vote to slash billions of dollars from Medicare

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Just one GOP representative voted for a bill to prevent automatic cuts to Medicare, which also will help avert a catastrophic debt default.

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday to prevent massive automatic cuts to Medicare and farm supports, 222-212. But nearly every Republican voted against the bill, which also contains provisions to help avert a catastrophic default on the national debt.

Just one Republican — retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) — joined every Democrat in voting for the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act, a bipartisan approach to handling two looming fiscal crises at the same time.

Due to previously passed laws aimed at reducing the federal budget deficit and increased spending this year to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation is facing billions of dollars in automatic cuts to Medicare, reduced payments to physicians, and slashed support for farmers, social services, and people with disabilities in early 2022.

While a bill passed in October raising the federal debt ceiling slightly and allowing the Treasury Department to pay for the costs of what Congress has already spent, the government is expected to again hit the debt ceiling in the next week or so. Economic analysts have predicted that if lawmakers do not act, it could have "cataclysmic" effects on the economy, including 6 million people losing their jobs, lasting damage to the nation's credit rating, and $15 trillion in household wealth wiped out.

The legislation postpones most of those automatic cuts and also provides an expedited pathway for the Democratic majority in Congress to raise the debt limit — without a GOP Senate filibuster.

Missouri Rep. Jason Smith, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, voted against the package and scolded Democrats for passing pandemic relief legislation to begin with, mocking it as the "Biden bailout bill."

"Millions of Americans who rely on Medicare are at risk of cuts to their benefits. Why? Because Washington Democrats insisted on spending TRILLIONS knowing it would trigger cuts to seniors under the Statutory PAYGO Act," he tweeted Tuesday. "They should know. They wrote the law."

Some Republicans said they supported getting rid of the automatic cuts, but voted no because they don't want to address the debt they helped rack up.

"Unfortunately, Democrats have chosen to play politics by tagging a mechanism paving the way for an increase in the debt ceiling to the legislation, which I could not and did not support," wrote Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon.

"Democrats are giving another blank check to Biden so he can continue his reckless spending," complained Pennsylvania Rep. Lloyd Smucker. "Congress shouldn’t govern by 'fill-in-the-blank.'"

"Tonight, I voted against a swampy maneuver that allows the Democrats to circumvent the filibuster in the Senate in order to raise the debt limit - something they already have the power to do using reconciliation, the process they're already using for #BuildBackBroke," said Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and some members of his Republican caucus have agreed to make sure it gets the 60 votes needed for passage.

Democrats would then have to pass the debt limit increase in a separate vote that would require just a simple majority in each chamber.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.