Sens. Chuck Schumer (D.N.Y.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) sparred over a provision in the healthcare bill some say was pork designed to attract centrist Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) key vote on Saturday night's procedural motion.
Republicans have questioned an addition to the bill that provides for $100 million in extra Medicare subsidies for "certain states recovering from a major disaster." Landrieu's state of Louisiana, of course, was hit by Hurrianes Katrina and Rita in 2005. GOPers have dubbed the provision the "new Louisiana Purchase" saying it helped buy off Landrieu's vote.
But Schumer, who is the Senate Democratic Caucus vice chairman, credited the funds to Landrieu's exceptional legislative ability.
"Mary Landrieu is a very good legislator and she does two things very well," Schumer said on CBS' "Face the Nation. "One, she delivers the goods for Louisiana. She has constantly and I think the people of Louisiana respect her for it. Second she has real views on healthcare those are taken into account as well."
During her speech on the Senate floor, Landrieu touted the measure that she says would help her state. "I am not going to be defensive," she said. "And it's not a $100 million fix. It's a $300 million fix." But she insisted that the funds were not the reason for her vote.
Landrieu was the second-to-last Democratic holdout to declare her support for Saturday night's procedural motion to begin formal debate on the Senate healthcare reform bill. Some say the
Kyl, who is the assistant Republican minority leader, decried the so-called "fix" as a disingenuous political maneuver that is sometimes necessary when negotiating with a diverse caucus.
"You haven't heard the Republicans say 'here is my price," he said on "Face the Nation. "The American people don't like that. It should be on the merits."