WASHINGTON — House Republicans are trying to re-cast a $26 billion state aid bill as yet another unfunded “bailout” bill, in hopes of souring moderates on it as the measure nears the wire.
Of that $26 billion, $16 billion is Medicaid money and $10 billion would go to retain and hire teachers. Minnesota’s share would be $263 million for Medicaid and about $167 million for teachers.
Rep. John Kline, the leading Repubilcan on the Education and Labor Committee, characterized it as “a controversial state bailout, including $10 billion requested by teachers’ unions to keep school systems funded at levels states cannot afford.”
“The American people have had enough,” he said. “They are telling us to stop with the bailouts, tax hikes, and special interest giveaways. They are telling us to stop inflating spending and postponing the day of fiscal reckoning. The American people are living within their means, and they expect Washington – and states – to do the same.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann sounded similar in an editorial on the Andrew Breitbart-run BigGovernment.com:
“Speaker Pelosi is calling the 435 House members to DC next week for the purpose of spending another $26 billion we don’t have,” Bachmann wrote.
To drive home that point, Bachmann will host a tele-townhall meeting tonight at 6 p.m. Central, when Democrats gavel in a pro-forma session (so the Rules Committee can meet, allowing the House to vote Tuesday morning).
The reason for the push: The Senate’s bill is noticeably smaller than the House’s. If this vote is cast as a state aid bill, with help for teachers and the poor elderly, then it is likely to be seen as a positive by voters in swing districts. If it’s instead cast as a bailout for teachers’ unions, it will be a liability.
Same bill, same vote, but this is about messaging.
The House will vote on the Senate’s language Tuesday around 9 a.m. Central. If it approves the exact same wording, the bill will get sent to President Obama, who has said he will sign it into law.