Recent Press Releases

Senator John Thune made the following statement today regarding a procedural move by the Senate Democrats to delay legislation to trim nearly $40 billion from the national deficit:

"Today we saw the Democrats in the Senate play politics with the wellbeing of the American people. They used an obscure procedural vote to delay comprehensive legislation that would trim nearly $40 billion in wasteful government spending from our nation’s deficit," said Thune. "As a result of this Democrat obstruction, $7.3 billion could be cut from Medicare physicians serving elderly patients across the country, $2 billion for Hurricane Katrina victims could be denied and welfare families and the working poor could see their child care assistance disappear.

"This government owes hard-working Americans the assurance that their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and responsibly on our nation’s top priorities. I firmly believe it is our duty in Congress to continually examine ways to target waste, reduce spending and practice fiscal discipline while funding these priorities. The Democrats failed to show the American people they are serious about fiscal responsibility.

"It was irresponsible for the Democrats to obstruct this legislation. Critics of the legislation claim this bill cuts spending for education and Medicaid programs. However, the Deficit Reduction Act makes considerable increases in funding for low-income student grant aid and provides $1.3 billion to ensure health care for over one million disabled children. This legislation trims the fat and waste associated with administrative costs."

The consequences of obstructing this legislation are as follows:

  • The federal welfare program, commonly referred to as TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) expires. As a result, welfare families and the working poor could see their cash payments and child care assistance evaporate.

  • Two billion dollars in federal aid for medical assistance to Katrina victims (Katrina Medicaid) could be denied.

  • Medicare physicians serving the elderly could receive a 4.4% cut ($7.3 billion) in Medicare reimbursements; such a cut is expected to drive good doctors out of the Medicare program, which could restrict access to rural Medicare beneficiaries.

  • Transitional medical assistance for families who have worked their way off welfare would be eliminated.

Following the procedural obstruction vote, the Senate was able to pass an amended version of the Deficit Reduction Act by a vote of 51 to 50, but the legislation must now go back to the House of Representatives for consideration. The House is not scheduled to return until January 31st, which blocks this legislation and much needed funding until the House returns.