The House voted 231-184 to overturn a rule that would have given lawmakers almost free rein to introduce Medicare legislation in such a way that it could have effectively been used to stall the legislative process.
Led by House Democrats, the vote essentially stays provisions under the so-called 45% trigger that would have allowed any lawmaker to bring up a billor make amendments to an existing oneunder the guise of Medicare reform. Democratic leaders said they were worried that the special leeway provided under the rule, which was born out of the 2003 Medicare law, could be used to cause gridlock for the balance of the legislative sessions.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), speaking on the House floor, warned that the trigger provisions would allow anyone to disrupt the proceedings of the House, adding that the result could lead to chaos and extraordinary political gamesmanship.
The Medicare trigger, a relatively small provision in an otherwise massive bill, was put into place to prompt Bush administration action when the Medicare program started to spend more than it was taking in. When that happened last year, a funding warning was issued, forcing the White House to offer its own cost-containment legislative package in February. (For a longer version of this story, please click here.) by Matthew DoBias