Pelosi, Reid Plan to Buck Bush on Medicare

Posted July 14, 2008 at 3:27pm

House and Senate Democratic leaders are hoping to have another successful veto override under their belts before week’s end thanks to President Bush’s decision to veto new Medicare legislation on Tuesday.

Bush announced his intention to veto the measure despite the strong concerns of Congressional Republicans who had privately pleaded with the White House to simply sign the bill.

House leadership aides said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will bring a veto override measure to the House floor immediately following Bush’s veto on Tuesday, and a senior Democratic aide in the Senate said Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning a Thursday vote. If the vote does occur Thursday, Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) would likely be brought back from the campaign trail for the event.

The override would mark the third time Congress has bucked Bush, joining successful overrides of his vetoes on water resources legislation and and the farm bill.

White House officials on Monday announced Bush’s intention to veto the bill, which delays cuts in payments to doctors from the Medicare system.

Although Bush has long said he would veto the bill, many House and Senate Republicans had privately pushed the White House to sign the bill, arguing that Democrats, doctors’ organizations and other supporters will use the veto against GOP candidates this fall.

But in a conference call on Monday, White House officials put the blame for a lack of support for Bush on Senate Republicans.

Following a July Fourth recess that saw many of his Members under near-constant attack from interest groups for initially filibustering the Medicare bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was unable to hold together enough of his Conference to uphold a veto during a vote last Wednesday. Nine Republicans ended up switching their votes to support the bill once the filibuster was broken, and a number of Senate Republicans who voted against the bill last week will vote to override the veto, Reid said on Monday.

“It’s not the Democrats who put us in that position. It’s the nine Republicans,” Tevi Troy, deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said during a conference call Monday. Shortly after Troy made his comments, White House officials abruptly ended the call and attempted to make his comments off the record for reporters, according to Congressional Quarterly.