Friday, 24 July 2015 00:00

Democrats win as Social Security cuts removed from Senate highway bill

Written by Joan McCarter | Daily Kos

Two provisions to cut Social Security benefits in the proposed highway bill caused Democrats in both the Senate and House to revolt. Democrats have succeeded in getting both of those provisions removed, but now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a serious challenge in getting the bill past his own party, in both chambers of Congress.

Senate Democrats defeated McConnell's first effort to bring the bill to the floor for debate, arguing they didn't have time to read the 1030-page bill in the few hours he had given them, and because of these spending provisions that hit Social Security. Immediately following that defeat, the Social Security cut to people who were concurrently receiving disability benefits and unemployment insurance was removed. The second cut, which would have ended benefits to anyone with an outstanding felony warrant, was was axed before a second procedural vote Wednesday night. Democrats pointed out that the last time this was attempted, and stymied by the courts, the government had to pay back $500 million to some 80,000 people who were wrongly cut off.

McConnell got the votes of 14 Democrats after removing these provisions, and the bill is moving forward this week in the Senate. But it's not the end to his problems, and his stubbornness in pushing this bill is looking a lot like his Patriot Act debacle. The House is ready to leave town for August recess next month. It passed a highway bill that lasts for the remainder of the year, and leadership on that side have made it clear that the Senate bill "won't fly" in the House. And yet:

McConnell’s plans for weekend work suggest he intends to jam the House by passing the six-year measure and then daring the House not to pass it, with just days until federal infrastructure funding expires at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, on the Senate side amendments and grandstanding are threats as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz try to compete with fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump for some headlines. Between the two of them, they've threatened to block the bill unless they can get or block amendments on Planned Parenthood, the Export Import Bank, Obamacare, and Iran. Once again, McConnell is having a really hard time demonstrating that Republicans can govern, even within the party.

At the same time, congressional Democrats are learning that they can stand together and stand tough on protecting Social Security and win.

Link to original article from DailyKos

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