The Senate's second-highest ranking Republican yesterday pledged to protect Medicare from more than $25 billion in mandatory cuts that would be triggered by tax overhaul legislation barreling toward passage.
The tax bill, which could come to a vote as early as Tuesday, is estimated to add nearly $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. The Budget Control Act of 2011, however, requires Congress pay for any legislation that increases the deficit. The budget law limits Medicare cuts to 4 percentage points, which the Congressional Budget Office projected to be $25 billion in 2018.
"We will deal with that later this week. And I believe we will protect Medicare," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said on ABC's "This Week."
The Texas Republican was responding to comments that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, Calif.) made suggesting that GOP leaders would have to deal with the consequences of increasing the deficit.
Cornyn turned it back on Pelosi, though, saying, "And if Ms. Pelosi and her party will join us, that will be a done deal."
Hospital leaders are keeping a close eye on the negotiations.
"Consistent signals have been sent from both parties and both chambers that this sequester will be waived as suggested by Sen. Cornyn," American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack said in an email. "There is a precedent for this, and this particular trigger has been waived more than a dozen times in the past. The AHA supports such a waiver, we have actively advocated for it, and we are confident that the commitments made will be upheld."