A handful of Republicans joined Democrats to approve the bill, which also extends out until May 1 federal assistance for the premiums paid under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, also known as COBRA, insurance program.
A vote seemed unlikely earlier today but gained momentum after Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle reached a deal on amendments.
The legislative package is priced at about $18.1 billion over the next decade, with about $2.1 billion of the cost coming from the so-called “doc fix.”
Lawmakers battled over the past several weeks over whether the legislation should be financially offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. Democrats have said the measure, which also extends unemployment benefits, should be considered emergency spending. Under such a move, the legislation would not necessarily have to be offset.
Republicans, however, countered that the bill would add to the federal deficit and offered alternatives that would offset the spending.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said that while the short-term fix was necessary, a complete overhaul of the payment formula is a must. But asked if the Senate would take up such a measure, the senator said she wasn’t sure. “I’d love to, that’s my goal,” Stabenow said, adding, “but I’m not sure.”