Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight
McConnell promises Collins tax bill won't lead to Medicare cut
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is promising the GOP tax bill, which is projected to add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, will not result in cuts to Medicare next year.
McConnell offered the vow to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a key swing vote, during a Wednesday meeting in his office.
He said that he would stop an automatic spending cut to Medicare next year that is required by the "pay-as-you-go" or "pay-go" budgetary rule.
Collins told reporters Thursday that McConnell had offered his word.
"I met with Sen. McConnell just yesterday and he has assured me that that will not be allowed to happen," Collins told reporters at a Thursday morning breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.
Collins said she would not vote for the GOP tax plan if it were to result in $25 billion in Medicare cuts next year as part of $150 billion in mandatory spending cuts that would be required over the next ten years under pay-go.
"I strongly oppose that," she said of possible Medicare cuts.
Collins wrote a letter to McConnell asking him what's his plan for avoiding that scenario.
He told her Thursday that he would not allow those cuts to go through and that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has been consulted on the thorny issue.
"I have a personal commitment that that will not occur and that has been discussed with Paul Ryan on the House side," Collins told reporters. "If it were to occur, I wouldn't even be considering voting for this bill."
She noted that Congress has waived pay-go rules 16 times in the past and she expects lawmakers to do it again when it passes a stopgap government funding measure next month or an omnibus appropriations package expected to pass before Christmas or early next year.
"It will be done before the end of the year, so that $25 billion in Medicare will not go into effect, I am confident of that," she said.
Pay-go rules require automatic across-the-board spending cuts for bills that cut taxes without offsetting their cost.
Separately, Democrats have questioned whether the GOP tax bill could lead to pressure to cut entitlements and other spending programs if the tax bill adds greatly to U.S. deficits.
Republicans argue their tax bill, which includes a 15-percent cut to the corporate tax rate, will unleash new economic growth that could increase tax revenues.