February 12, 2014, 10:11 am
In reversal, Senate to vote on House bill
By Jeremy Herb
The Senate will vote Wednesday on a House bill to reverse a $6 billion cut to military pensions after a reversal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
The bill would offset the cost of reversing the unpopular pension cut by extending the sequester on Medicare spending for one additional year, to 2024.
Just Tuesday, Reid and Senate Democrats had criticized the House bill, which was approved in a bipartisan 326-90 vote.
Reid instead pressed for Senate Republicans to support a bill from Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and three other vulnerable Democrats that simply repealed the pension cuts without an offset.
A senior Senate Democratic aide explained the reversal by saying that the Senate was opting to take up the House bill because it solves the problem of the controversial cut and uses an offset that the Senate has already voted for.
In comments on the Senate floor, Reid raised no problems with the House bill, arguing that the Senate’s 94-0 vote on Monday to proceed to debate on the Pryor legislation forced the House’s hand and showed the Senate was taking the issue “seriously.”
"The Monday vote forced the House to act," Reid said.
The Senate will vote at 2 p.m. Wednesday on the House bill. It will only require a majority-vote threshold.
Republicans had objected to Pryor’s bill because it did not offset the $6 billion pension cut.
But Senate Democrats on Tuesday argued that the debate should not be about how to pay for repealing the cuts.
At his weekly press conference Tuesday, Reid slammed Republicans for using the same offset that he had proposed last month for an extension of unemployment insurance.
He said it showed the "absurdity, the lack of commonsense and reasoning that Republicans in Congress have.”
A day later, Reid sung a different tune, hailing the House passage of its bill.
“It’s encouraging that some of my Republican colleagues are regaining their grip on sanity,” he said Wednesday.