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The House rejected an attempt by conservative congressmen to extend a new drug entitlement only to needy seniors.

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Roll Call: House Rejects Means-Testing For Drug Entitlement Bill

The House rejected an attempt by conservative congressmen to extend a new drug entitlement only to needy seniors.

On Oct. 7, 2003, by a vote of 161 to 234, the House defeated a motion by Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.) to instruct conferees on the Medicare prescription drug bill (H.R. 1) to extend the proposed entitlement only to needy senior citizens.

As currently written in both the House- and Senate-passed versions, the benefit would be a universal entitlement for all senior citizens, creating great liability for the federal treasury-at least $430 billion over ten years, and possibly much more. Flake’s motion would have instead made the entitlement a welfare program, and part of the Department of Health and Human Services instead of Medicare.

In a written statement, Flake scoffed that neither the House nor Senate versions of H.R. 1 would ever allow for a balanced federal budget. “It’s going to be impossible to ever achieve a balanced budget with this prescription drug bill,” said Flake. “If the conferees produce a bill that resembles either the House or Senate version, we’re going to be seeing permanent budget deficits.”

Flake derided the idea of making low and middle income taxpayers buy prescription drugs for wealthy Americans. “It makes little sense to force the average taxpayer to pay for Bill Gates and Ted Turner’s prescription drug benefit,” said Flake. “Congress has a responsibility to introduce measures that would curb this incredibly irresponsible drug benefit, and I believe that means testing is a good place to start.” Critics point out that a means test would, in effect, penalize those who saved to prepare for their retirement.

While supportive of provisions in the House-passed version that would reform Medicare and allow competitive bidding in health plans, Flake was critical of President Bush’s plans to give away free drugs to all Americans, creating yet another form of government dependency. The cynical goal of the entitlement, he suggested, is to pacify senior citizens and buy their votes with billions of taxpayer dollars.

“Our goal ought to be to reform Medicare to ensure its solvency, but one can only assume that the goal of this plan, in its current form, is to buy votes,” he said.

The prescription drug bill passed the House by only one vote in the wee hours of June 27, over the objections of a small band of conservatives. (See HUMAN EVENTS rollcall, July 14, page 34.) Most of the votes against came from Democrats, eager to prevent Republicans from taking credit for creating a new entitlement.

Flake’s motion to instruct was largely symbolic, since it would not necessarily compel the conferees to change the prescription drug bill. However, it was significant that a majority of the Congressmen who supported the bill on June 27 also voted for Flake’s motion. This was a clear sign that they were reluctant in their support, which bodes ill for the possibility that any bill will emerge from conference at all, let alone by the October deadline the White House has set.

In other words, the vote-although the motion was soundly defeated-was viewed as a victory for conservatives, who do not want to see this expansion of the welfare state become law.

A “yes” vote was a vote for the Flake motion to instruct members of the House-Senate conference committee on the proposed prescription drug benefit to put a means test in the measure. A “no” vote was a vote against the motion to instruct.

FOR THE MOTION: 161 AGAINST THE MOTION: 234
REPUBLICANS FOR: 155
Aderholt
Akin
Baker
Ballenger
Barrett (SC)
Bartlett (MD)
Barton (TX)
Beauprez
Bereuter
Bilirakis
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn
Blunt
Boehner
Bonilla
Bonner
Boozman
Brown (SC)
Burgess
Burns
Burton (IN)
Buyer
Camp
Cannon
Cantor
Carter
Chabot
Chocola
Coble
Collins
Cox
Crane
Crenshaw
Cubin
Cunningham
Deal (GA)
DeMint
Diaz-Balart, M.
Doolittle
Dreier
Duncan
Dunn
Ehlers
English
Everett
Feeney
Ferguson
Flake
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Gallegly
Garrett (NJ)
Gibbons
Gingrey
Goode
Goodlatte
Goss
Granger
Green (WI)
Greenwood
Gutknecht
Harris
Hart
Hastings (WA)
Hayes
Hefley
Hensarling
Herger
Hostettler
Hulshof
Hyde
Isakson
Jenkins
Johnson, Sam
Johnson (CT)
Jones (NC)
Keller
Kelly
Kennedy (MN)
King (IA)
Kingston
Kline
Knollenberg
Kolbe
Latham
Lewis (KY)
Linder
LoBiondo
McCrery
McKeon
Mica
Miller, Gary
Miller (FL)
Murphy
Musgrave
Myrick
Nethercutt
Neugebauer
Ney
Norwood
Nunes
Nussle
Osborne
Otter
Paul
Pearce
Pence
Peterson (PA)
Petri
Pickering
Pitts
Platts
Pombo
Porter
Portman
Pryce (OH)
Ramstad
Rehberg
Renzi
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rohrabacher
Ros-Lehtinen
Royce
Ryan (WI)
Saxton
Schrock
Sensenbrenner
Sessions
Shadegg
Shays
Sherwood
Shuster
Simmons
Simpson
Smith (MI)
Smith (NJ)
Souder
Stearns
Sweeney
Tancredo
Tauzin
Taylor (NC)
Terry
Thomas
Tiahrt
Vitter
Walsh
Wamp
Weldon (FL)
Weller
Whitfield
Wicker
Wilson (NM)
Wilson (SC)

DEMOCRATS FOR: 6
Blumenauer
Boucher
Case
Dicks
Stenholm
Thompson (CA)

REPUBLICANS AGAINST: 51
Bachus
Biggert
Boehlert
Bradley (NH)
Brown-Waite, V.
Burr
Capito
Cole
Culberson
Davis, Jo Ann
Davis, Tom
Emerson
Forbes
Fossella
Gerlach
Gillmor
Graves
Hobson
Hoekstra
Hunter
Istook
Janklow
Johnson (IL)
King (NY)
Kirk
LaHood
LaTourette
Leach
Lewis (CA)
Lucas (OK)
Manzullo
McCotter
McHugh
McInnis
Miller (MI)
Moran (KS)
Northup
Ose
Oxley
Quinn
Regula
Rogers (AL)
Smith (TX)
Sullivan
Thornberry
Tiberi
Turner (OH)
Weldon (PA)
Wolf
Young (AK)
Young (FL)

DEMOCRATS AGAINST: 182
Abercrombie
Ackerman
Alexander
Allen
Andrews
Baca
Baird
Baldwin
Ballance
Becerra
Bell
Berman
Berry
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Boswell
Boyd
Brady (PA)
Brown, Corrine
Brown (OH)
Capps
Capuano
Cardin
Cardoza
Carson (IN)
Carson (OK)
Clay
Clyburn
Conyers
Cooper
Costello
Cramer
Crowley
Cummings
Davis (AL)
Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
Davis (TN)
DeGette
Delahunt
DeLauro
Deutsch
Dingell
Doggett
Dooley (CA)
Doyle
Edwards
Emanuel
Engel
Etheridge
Evans
Farr
Fattah
Filner
Ford
Frank (MA)
Frost
Gonzalez
Gordon
Green (TX)
Grijalva
Gutierrez
Hall
Hastings (FL)
Hill
Hinchey
Hinojosa
Hoeffel
Holden
Holt
Honda
Hooley (OR)
Hoyer
Inslee
Israel
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Jefferson
John
Johnson, E. B.
Kanjorski
Kaptur
Kennedy (RI)
Kildee
Kilpatrick
Kleczka
Kucinich
Lampson
Langevin
Lantos
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee
Levin
Lewis (GA)
Lipinski
Lowey
Lucas (KY)
Lynch
Majette
Maloney
Markey
Marshall
Matheson
McCarthy (MO)
McCarthy (NY)
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McIntyre
McNulty
Meehan
Meek (FL)
Menendez
Michaud
Miller, George
Miller (NC)
Mollohan
Moore
Moran (VA)
Murtha
Nadler
Neal (MA)
Oberstar
Obey
Olver
Ortiz
Owens
Pallone
Pascrell
Pastor
Payne
Pelosi
Peterson (MN)
Pomeroy
Price (NC)
Rahall
Rangel
Reyes
Rodriguez
Ross
Rothman
Roybal-Allard
Ruppersberger
Rush
Ryan (OH)
Sabo
Sanchez, Linda
Sanchez, Loretta
Sandlin
Schakowsky
Schiff
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Serrano
Sherman
Skelton
Slaughter
Smith (WA)
Snyder
Spratt
Stark
Strickland
Stupak
Tanner
Tauscher
Thompson (MS)
Tierney
Towns
Turner (TX)
Udall (CO)
Udall (NM)
Van Hollen
Velazquez
Visclosky
Waters
Watt
Waxman
Weiner
Wexler
Wu
Wynn

INDEPENDENTS AGAINST: 1
Sanders

NOT VOTING: 39

REPUBLICANS (22): DEMOCRATS (17): INDEPENDENTS (0)
Bass
Bono
Brady (TX)
Calvert
Castle
DeLay
Diaz-Balart, L.
Fletcher
Foley
Gilchrest
Hayworth
Houghton
Issa
Putnam
Radanovich
Reynolds
Ryun (KS)
Shaw
Shimkus
Toomey
Upton
Walden (OR)

Berkley
Davis (FL)
DeFazio
Eshoo
Gephardt
Harman
Jones (OH)
Kind
Lofgren
Matsui
Meeks (NY)
Millender-McDonald
Napolitano
Solis
Taylor (MS)
Watson
Woolsey
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