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Cruz slams 'doc fix' as expanding ObamaCare

Cruz slams 'doc fix' as expanding ObamaCare
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Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Cruz puts hold on Biden's CIA nominee It will be Vice (or) President Harris against Gov. DeSantis in 2024 — bet on it Senate rejects Cruz effort to block stimulus checks for undocumented immigrants MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday said he will vote against the $200 billion Medicare “doc fix” bill that is hitting the Senate floor, becoming the first 2016 candidate to oppose the legislation.

The senator said he opposes the House-passed Medicare reform package because it “institutionalizes and expands ObamaCare policies” while adding billions to the deficit.

“Any deal should be fully paid for and include significant and structural reforms to Medicare,” Cruz wrote in a statement, released just a few hours before the Senate is expected to take up the legislation.

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Cruz's move could ramp up the pressure on the other two presidential candidates in the upper chamber, Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China MORE (R-Fla.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers MORE (R-Ky.), who have not yet said how they will vote on the bill.

The legislation would repeal a flawed doctor payment formula known as the “sustainable growth rate,” which lawmakers of both parties have failed to resolve for nearly two decades.

This year’s bill would pay for about a third of the bill’s total cost over 10 years, which Cruz and other fiscal conservatives have blasted as contrary to their party’s goal of balancing the budget.

Several fiscal conservatives, including Sens. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Manchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' MORE (R-Ala.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWhite House downplays surprising February jobs gain, warns US far from recovery White House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks MORE (R-Utah) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) have also raised concerns about the price tag of the bill, though none except Cruz have publicly declared they will vote against it.

Lee plans to propose an amendment that would require Congress to find offsets for the bill’s costs using “Pay As You Go” budget rules.

Sessions, who slammed the bill on the Senate floor on Monday evening, said later that he has not yet decided whether to vote against the bill if Lee's amendment is not included.

"I haven't decided," Sessions told reporters Monday evening. But he added: "Republicans ought not to move legislation adding this much to the debt before we even get a budget signed." 

The Senate has one day to approve the Medicare reform package before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid hits doctors with the planned 21 percent cuts in reimbursement rates.

The legislation has been praised by both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) and  Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThree ways James Kvaal can lead postsecondary education forward Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Cruz hits back at Boehner for telling him to 'go f--- yourself' MORE (R-Ohio), who negotiated the deal with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

President Obama has already promised to sign the bill. 

McConnell has not yet announced the schedule for a vote, though he said from the Senate floor on Tuesday morning that he hopes it will be “soon.”

Acknowledging that the legislation is not perfect, McConnell added, “I do think the bill deserves a vote, and it is my hope that the Senate will soon take one.”

— Peter Sullivan contributed