Tags: Hawkings | Brawner | budget | Medicare

Roll Call's Hawkings on Budget and Medicare

By    |   Friday, 27 Mar 2015 07:53 AM

As Congress prepared to leave for a two-week recess for Eastover and cherry blossoms, David Hawkings, senior editor of CQ Roll Call, spoke to Greta Wodele Brawner, host of CSPAN's Washington Journal, about the status of budget legislation in the Republican Congress and actions to deal with a perennial issue regarding payment of physicians under Medicare.

Brawner first asked about six different proposals that the House dealt with Wednesday. Hawkings noted that what passed was what a majority of Republicans could agree on, going beyond the original proposal on military spending by bending the numbers that would have applied under sequestration in order to please the "defense hawks," the result of what Hawkings called "a battle within the Republican party between the true 'budget hawks' and the true 'defense hawks.'" Ironically, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, during his appearance before the House Financial Services Committee, had remarked that the Republican budget was calling for too little spending on defense to meet U.S. commitments.

Asked whether this was a victory for the Boehner leadership, Hawkings replied unequivocally that it was a win for Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, that "the system worked the way it was supposed to, which was that the House Republicans understood where their caucus was, where the 'sweet spot' was within the Republican party." Hawkings described this as a different place on the political continuum from a few years ago when "some Republicans were farther to the left than some Democrats — that's no longer the case."

He described the Republicans as "a caucus of conservatives, very conservatives, and ultra conservatives," and the leadership "got it done." He called it "the biggest victory for the whip operation of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.," the House Majority Whip.

The Senate was scheduled to have a "votarama" on Thursday since the Senate rules don't allow for a filibuster of the budget, with debate limited to 30 hours, not including time for votes or for introducing amendments. After the 30 hours, votes are immediate on any amendment that a senator introduces and explains. Hawkings said it's called a "votarama" because in recent years there have been an average of 36 votes on the budget at the end of debate, which he estimated constitutes 10 percent to 15 percent of all votes for a given year.

Brawner noted that the products of both houses will have to be reconciled, and she asked what the likelihood is that the Republicans can agree among themselves. Hawkings called it "pretty strong, because the pressure is enormous for the Republicans to show that they can govern." He added that the system is geared in both houses to allow the majority party to have its way as long as Republicans can get 90 percent of them to agree in the House and 94 percent in the Senate.

Hawkings predicted that the necessary work will be done by staff and leadership during the break, and he emphasized that the budget is nonbinding and "does little more than set the parameters for legislation later in the year" to achieve their goals for this Congress.

Finally, Brawner asked whether the bipartisan "doc fix" to set Medicare compensation long term that the House passed will pass the Senate. Hawkings predicted the Senate will delay action for months.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
As Congress prepared to leave for a two-week recess for Eastover and cherry blossoms, David Hawkings, senior editor of CQ Roll Call, spoke to Greta Wodele Brawner, host of CSPAN's Washington Journal, about the status of budget legislation in the Republican Congress.
Hawkings, Brawner, budget, Medicare
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2015-53-27
Friday, 27 Mar 2015 07:53 AM
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