House GOP: No new vote on budget

The House Republican leadership will not revisit the disputed budget-reconciliation bill nor use any other means to answer questions about whether the legislation is, in fact, law.

The GOP maintains that the measure is law, a leadership aide said yesterday, despite the fact that the House and Senate approved slightly different language. President Bush signed the bill last Wednesday.

House Democrats are adamant that the issue is not settled.

“We’re continuing to hammer away on this,” said a spokeswoman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The Senate passed a concurrent resolution last week emphasizing that the language signed by the president reflects congressional intent. The House leadership now appears to be rejecting that approach. House Democrats made clear the resolution would not satisfy their complaints and have demanded a new vote on the contentious spending-reduction bill.

Without an opportunity to raise the issue on the House floor, Democrats and others who contend that the bill has not been enacted because of the discrepancy might have to wait for the courts to act.

The first lawsuit challenging the measure was filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, in Mobile. Jim Zeigler brought the suit on the grounds that provisions of the bill governing eligibility for Medicaid’s nursing-home benefit based on financial assets would discourage charitable giving.

The plaintiff was a delegate to the 2000 and 2004 Republican National Conventions who specializes in nursing-home and Medicaid cases, according to a statement. Zeigler seeks a declaratory judgment from Judge Ginny Granade that the bill is not in force.