Mikulski postpones vote on health spending bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairwoman of the Senate committee responsible for a bill funding implementation of "Obamacare" has canceled a vote on the measure after Republicans signaled they would force a series of politically painful votes on endangered committee Democrats.
Wednesday's move by Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., came after several committee Democrats expressed reservations about voting on amendments related to President Barack Obama's health care law.
The measure in question is a $158 billion measure funding the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The bill's author, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, had said Tuesday that the Appropriations Committee would debate and approve the measure on Thursday. But the session was never scheduled by Mikulski, whose spokesman said the schedule was "under review."
The move has angered the sometimes prickly Harkin, who is leaving the Senate at the end of the year. Harkin has authored or co-authored the health legislation for decades and is invested in seeing it become law. He is particularly proud of increases for health research at the National Institutes of Health.
Several Appropriations Democrats, including Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska, are at risk of losing re-election bids this fall.
Separately, Mikulski announced that the full Senate next week will take up a hybrid measure funding the departments of Commerce, Justice, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture.