Republicans Attack ‘Cornhusker Kickback’

Posted December 20, 2009 at 5:52pm

Republican Senators Sunday evening took to the Senate floor in a coordinated, political effort meant to embarrass the Democrats for agreeing to pay the cost of Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion as a means to secure the vote of moderate Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).Early in the six o’clock hour, four Republican Senators — one after the other — asked for unanimous consent that the manager’s amendment to the Democratic health care package currently be set aside in order to consider a proposal that would extend the deal Nelson secured for Nebraska to other states. The states included in the GOP’s request were California, Colorado, Montana and Virginia.Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), manning the floor for the majority, quickly objected and the GOP moves failed.Republicans spent most of the day Sunday criticizing the “Cornhusker kickback,— a deal Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made with Nelson that calls for the federal government to pay for Nebraska’s share of the Medicaid expansion as proposed in the health care reform package.Nebraska appears to be the only state that would not have to pay its share of the expansion. Medicaid, which provides health coverage to the poor, is funded jointly by the federal government and the states.Sens. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) took part in this effort for the GOP.