After a lengthy caucus in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s, D-Calif., office, House Democratic leadership announced a way forward on the “extenders bill” that the chamber is trying to pass before leaving for their Memorial Day recess.
The bill has been slashed from its original price of around $200 billion to $145 billion. However, only $50 billion of the total cost is paid for. The rest will be paid for using borrowed money.
To lower the total, lawmakers shortened the time frame for several of the social spending programs in the bill. The so-called “doctor fix” that deals with reimbursement rates to doctors through Medicare has been shortened to 19 months from the original target of three and a half years. Extensions on unemployment and COBRA benefits will expire on November 30, rather than at the end of 2010. This allowed the unpaid provisions in the bill to stay under $100 billion.
The tax cut provisions and the increase in the tax on carried interest remains the same.
It’s unclear whether this new bill will attract more support, but at least one Democrat isn’t buying it. Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, says that the price is still too high. “There’s nothing in the bill that is so good that if it’s not paid for I can vote for it,” he said, “We should find a way to pay for it.”