Senate Democrats

Republican Obstruction Creates Missed Opportunities For The American People

While Republicans broke records for obstruction this Congress, the real victims have been the American people. Bush-McCain Republicans have blocked numerous pieces of legislation that could have directly assisted families hurt by the current economic downturn. Among the bills blocked by Republicans were the efforts to enforce equal pay at the workplace for women, heating assistance for low-income families, the ability for Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, and health insurance for children.

Bush-McCain Republicans blocked renewal of children’s health insurance program:

The Bi-Partisan Children’s Health Insurance Compromise Sought to Invest $35 Billion in New Funding for Children’s Healthcare. The agreement would have reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program, investing an additional $35 billion over five years to strengthen the program’s financing, increase health insurance coverage for low-income children, and improve the quality of health care children receive. [Senate Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]

The Children’s Health Insurance Bill Would Have Provided Health Care for Millions More Uninsured Children.  In addition to preserving coverage for the 6.6 million children already covered under CHIP, the bi-partisan Senate bill would have also covered millions of low-income children who are currently uninsured.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the compromise measure would have reduced the number of uninsured children by almost four million children.” [Senate Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]

The Children’s Health Insurance Bill Replaced the Bush Administration Rules That Would Deny Coverage For Some Kids. The bill “replaced” a letter to states from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that imposed new restrictions on states seeking to expand CHIP eligibility above 250 percent of the federal poverty level, according to a summary. The provision would have phased in requirements for low-income coverage that states must meet in order to cover children above 300 percent of the poverty level. [Congress Daily, 9/24/07]

The Children’s Health Insurance Bill Was Fiscally Responsible. As with the current Children’s Health Insurance Program, the bi-partisan measure called for a moderate increase in the tax already imposed on tobacco products. Specifically, the measure created new revenue from a 61-cent increase in the excise tax on cigarettes, as well as a proportional increase on all other tobacco products. [Senate Finance Committee Press Release, 9/21/07]

Bush-McCain Republicans opposed bill enforcing equal pay for equal work:

The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Ensured Women Receive Equal Pay for Equal Work. The Democratic wage discrimination bill restored the law to its original intent, prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, by helping to ensure women earn equal pay for equal work. The measure allowed employees to sue employers for wage discrimination every time they issue a paycheck, regardless of how long ago the alleged discrimination occurred. The Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately the Supreme Court ruled claims must be filed within 180 days of the first time the discriminatory act took place. The bill also allowed for wronged employees to be paid up to two years’ worth of back wages. [Senate Vote 110, HR 2831, 4/2308]

Women Are Being Hit By the Current Economic Downturn Especially Hard. “Women were already in a precarious economic position, and the economic downturn is hitting them especially hard, according to an analysis released today by the National Women’s Law Center.”  [National Women’s Law Center, 1/28/08]

Women Have Suffered Steeper Decrease in Real Median Wages Than Men, Face Higher Risk of Large Drops in Income During Economic Downturn. “The downturn has caused women’s wages to fall and this decline is significantly larger than what men have suffered. In 2007, the real median wage for adult women workers dropped 3 percent; wages for adult male workers dropped by .5 percent over the same period. Women’s wages are also more volatile than men’s wages, and they face a much higher risk of seeing large drops in income than men do.” [Senator Kennedy Press Release, 4/18/08]

Pay Disparity Exacerbates Economic Strain on Women, Their Families. “Existing pay disparities for women exacerbate the economic strain on women and on households run by women, since women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.” [Senator Kennedy Press Release, 4/18/08]

Bush-McCain Republicans blocked home heating assistance for low-income families:

Senate Republicans Blocked $2.5 Billion in Assistance to Low-Income Families Struggling to Pay Heating and Cooling Bills. Only five Republicans joined Democrats in attempting to end debate on the Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act. The measure, which had 52 co-sponsors (13 Republicans), called for providing $2.53 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, split equally between the formula funding that benefits the warm weather states and the contingency funding which usually benefits the cold weather states.  The $1.265 billion increase under the formula was to directly to the states for either cooling or heating assistance. [Senate Vote 187, S 3186, 7/26/08; Office of Senator Bernie Sanders, 7/11/08]

Survey: Half of Moderate Income Families Say It Is More Difficult to Pay Energy Bills In Comparison to Last Year. “According to the 2008 Energy Costs Survey released in June by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, 60 percent of low income households, 49 percent of moderate-income households, and 42 percent of middle-income households said that it was more difficult for them to pay their energy bills this year than in the previous year, and even after sacrificing on food and medicine, many low- and moderate-income households were still unable to afford their energy needs.” [Electric Light & Power, July – August 2008]

More People Have Died From Extreme Heat Than From Hurricanes, Lightning, Tornadoes, Floods, and Earthquakes Combined. “Historically, from 1979 to 2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. During this period, more people in this country died from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control.” [Office of Senator Bernie Sanders Press Release, 7/26/08]

Bush-McCain Republicans opposed allowing medicare to negotiate with drug companies:

Senate Republicans Blocked Consideration of a Measure to Allow Medicare to Negotiate for Lower Prescription Drug Prices. Only six Republicans joined Democrats to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill that would have allowed the Health and Human Services Department to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices covered under the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. [Senate Vote 132, S.3, 4/18/07]

The Medicare Prescription Drug Negotiation Measure Struck the Right Balance in Reducing Drug Costs. The Senate measure authorized the government to negotiate drug prices, but did not require the negotiation. The bill sought to require private companies that run drug coverage plans to turn over cost and price data to Congress. According to the press, “[l]awmakers might then use that information to make a future case for government negotiation if they can show that private plans are not reducing prices sufficiently.” [CQ Committee Coverage, 4/12/07]