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DeLay Defends Additions to Military Tax-Cut Bill

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) defended Republicans who loaded their pet provisions onto a noncontroversial bill designed to help military personnel Wednesday.

“It’s part of the legislative process,” he told reporters. “You take things that are important to you and you put them on a train that is leaving the station.”

The bill, which heads to the House floor Thursday and was expected to have broad support before the add-ons, gives tax breaks to military and foreign service personnel. However, following additions made by Republicans during a Ways and Means Committee markup last month, it now would also eliminate the 30 percent tax that foreigners betting on horse races in this country pay and wipe out a 10 percent excise tax on tackle boxes, in addition to other things.

DeLay said most the amendments approved passed the House “in one form or another” in the past and were either held up by a Democratic Senate or vetoed by a Democratic president.

“I imagine the Democrats will try to make a big deal out of this,” he said.

And they probably will.

On Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) likened the move to turning grandma into a drug smuggler.

“Everybody’s favorite grandmother is being asked to carry illegal drugs across the border,” he said. “You love the grandmother” but you know the drugs are bad, he said, continuing the analogy.

After dispensing with the Armed Forces Tax Fairness Act next week, the House will begin its first of many “theme” weeks in which it takes up several pieces of legislation relating to one topic, DeLay said.

First up next Wednesday will be a medical errors bill followed by a medical liability measure the following day.

The former is aimed at minimizing deaths resulting from physicians’ errors by promoting voluntary and confidential reporting of medical errors to newly created Patient Safety Organizations.

Rep. James Greenwood (R-Pa.) introduced the medical liability bill, which would cap how much someone injured as a result of a doctor’s mistake could collect in non-economic injuries in court at $250,000.

There would be no cap on “objective” economic losses, such as medical bills, or lost earnings as long as the plaintiff could verify that.

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