Senate Recesses Sans Medicaid Expansion

Harrisburg Capitol stepsNegotiations between the House and Senate have been ongoing for the last three days, after the June 30th budget deadline, on two key bills covering Medicaid expansion and the tax code.

On Monday the House, in what has become the most prolonged disagreement left standing between the two chambers, moved to wrap up debate on the Welfare Code bill that is typically passed in conjunction with the budget.

Wrap up, it did not. On Tuesday House Republicans rejected a proposal – passed 40 to 10 by the Senate – that would force the Governor’s hand on Medicaid expansion.

“We believe the Governor and Secretary Mackereth should have an opportunity to negotiate the best terms for Pennsylvania,” House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said then. “None of us is in a position as legislators to usurp the power of the executive branch to do those negotiations.”

These discrepancies between the bills called the Senate back into action Wednesday to work towards concurrence. On the Medicaid issue, GOP Senators voted on party lines to concur with the House version that did not include expansion.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that according to Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, this was due to Governor Corbett threatening to veto any bill that included language for Medicaid expansion.

“We have unnecessarily lost an opportunity to allow people to have health care in a fiscally responsible manner,” said Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairwoman Pat Vance (R-Cumberland) who has vowed to introduce another Medicaid expansion bill in the fall.

But lawmakers aren’t done yet.

The Senate disputed one of the House’s amendments to the Tax Code bill. Specifically, they removed a non-binding statement indicating that there is intent to act to legalize payday lending in the state.

The House must now suspend its recess and return Monday, July 8th. Presently, they’re scheduled for a non-voting session, but that may be switched to a voting session.

All of this begs the question, was the budget actually done on time?
House Democratic Caucus Communications Director Brett Marcy didn’t think so.

He tweeted, “#Corbett #PABudget is NOT “on time” unless ALL required budget bills are signed. Tax/Fiscal/Welfare/School Code bills will all be LATE.”

This was rebutted by the Governor’s Deputy Secretary of Legislative Affairs, Andrew Ritter who said noting that the budget signed on June 30 included a revenue certification that did not include any revenue that was contingent on these final bills.

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