In an exceedingly rare show of bipartisanship, Senate Democrats and Republicans came together Friday to avert a major cut in federal reimbursements for Medicare providers.
Medicare beneficiaries are still not able to rest easy, because the short term patch must still be approved by the House, though swift action next week is likely.
Republicans won out on a measure that is fully paid for, in other words, not a dime goes to increase the deficit.
Senate Democratic leaders must still craft a separate package of tax and jobless benefits, a move that has so far proven impossible. An angry Senate Majority Leader, D-Nev., castigated Republicans Thursday night for not supporting the latest iteration of an "extenders" bill (so-called because it extends tax incentives and unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed). Republicans had supported a bill earlier this year with deficit spending, but an aide to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Fox, "A lot has changed, for one- the has hit the $13 trillion debt mark."
Reid also needs to convince two of his Democratic-vote hold-outs, Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Ct., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., as both rejected the measure for sending $55 billion to the deficit (a reduction from earlier versions).
But Friday was all smiles and agreement.
McConnell said to Reid, "Let me just say to my friend, the majority leader, this is a good example of bipartisanship here."
And Reid to his colleague, "Sometimes the Senate can be terribly disconcerting, aggravating, but that's the way the Senate is....I'm glad we were able to work this out."