Reid To Senate Republicans: You Wanna Privatize Medicare? Vote For It!

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) confirmed on a conference call with reporters Wednesday that he’ll force Senate Republicans to vote on the controversial House GOP budget.

“We’re going to have an opportunity in the Senate to vote for the [Paul] Ryan budget,” Reid told reporters, to “see if Republicans in the Senate like the Ryan budget as much as their colleagues [in the House] did.”

That budget, which passed in the lower chamber with near-unanimous GOP support, includes a policy agenda that would phase out Medicare, dramatically slash Medicaid, while reducing the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans. It has become the source of significant heartburn for vulnerable House Republicans, who have had to face down angry constituents in their districts during the current two-week recess.Reid’s strategy leaves Senate Republicans two unenviable options: link arms and vote unanimously (or nearly unanimously) for the politically controversial House budget, or take political cover and expose divisions within the party over the direction GOP leaders want to take the country.

One GOP senator, Susan Collins (R-ME), has already publicly stated her opposition to the House Republican plan.

“We’ll see how much the Republicans like it here in the Senate,” Reid said. Though it will certainly fail in the upper chamber, if it were to pass, Reid said it would be “one of the worst things to happen to this country.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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