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GOP Joins Democrats in Medicare Override

On a 70-26 vote, the Senate on Tuesday evening overrode President Bush’s veto of the Medicare doctor’s fix. Right before the vote, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called the override vote a bipartisan message to the president in support of Medicare. “This vote today on overriding President Bush’s ill-fated veto is a reaffirmation of how important Medicare is to America’s future. It was a strong bipartisan vote of 69 who voted just a week or so ago in favor of this measure,” Durbin said. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who voted against the Medicare bill, said that Democrats “were very clever to link the doctor’s fix to Medicare Advantage,” arguing that the strategy Democrats employed was effectively used against several Republicans to switch their initial votes against the bill. Many Republicans were targeted by medical groups over the July Fourth recess for their votes against the Medicare bill. The American Medical Association argued that doctors would stop receiving reimbursements from the federal government for their care if the bill was not passed and charged that several GOP Senators were blocking the way. It was not until Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who had been absent from the chamber since a diagnosis of brain cancer, returned to the Senate and provided the significant vote in favor of the bill that Republicans follow suit. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) mentioned Kennedy in his Tuesday remarks, citing the ailing Massachusetts lawmaker as the critical vote that broke the dam against the bill. Kennedy, however, did not return this time around to override the veto.

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