Congressional negotiators met for the first time to resolve differences in the fiscal 2005 budget resolutions passed by each chamber. Among those differences: a Medicaid funding reduction of up to $2.2 billion over five years in the House plan, while the Senate proposal contains no cuts to the program. Earlier this week, medical associations and lobbyists sent letters to members of Congress urging them to spare Medicaid from any cuts in light of many states' fiscal woes. The 10-member conference committee includes Reps. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and John Spratt (D-S.C.). Senators on the committee are Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Don Nickles (R-Okla.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) and Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). -- by Tony Fong
Lawmakers get to work on compromise budget
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