Monday, July 14, 2008

A Senator Not Doing His Job

The U.S. Senate voted last Wednesday on Medicare.

A bill to amend titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act to extend expiring provisions under the Medicare Program, to improve beneficiary access to preventive and mental health services, to enhance low-income benefit programs, and to maintain access to care in rural areas, including pharmacy access, and for other purposes.
But the Democrats won this one, thanks to a Senator from MA
His Senate colleagues had not expected to see Kennedy, who is being treated with radiation and chemotherapy, for several more weeks or longer. Some feared that Kennedy, 76, would never be well enough to return to the chamber where he has served for nearly 46 years.

But with just minutes to go in a vote to protect Medicare payments to doctors, Kennedy, beaming and laughing, walked through the back doors of the Senate chamber and gave Democrats the vote they needed to stop a Republican filibuster and pass the bill.

The entire chamber erupted in cheers and applause as Kennedy - flanked by his son, his best friend, the Democrats' presidential nominee, and his fellow Massachusetts senator - strode into the well of the Senate floor. Lawmakers from both parties mobbed him; most shook Kennedy's hand and a few pecked him on the cheek.

Then, Kennedy gazed up at the Senate clerk to do what he has done many thousands of times since he arrived in Washington in 1963, but has been unable to do for more than a month: vote.

When the din had subsided, Kennedy raised his arms jubilantly and cast his first vote, signaling not only a victory for the legislation, but a temporary win over a deadly disease that has kept him from the job he loves since he was diagnosed May 20.

"Aye," he yelled, his arms high in the air.
Kennedy's vote ensured that Republicans would not be able to filibuster the bill. The tally was one short of 100 however, and that one Senator was John McCain. Who opted - instead of casting a vote - to issue a press release on the bill:
For Immediate Release
July 9, 2008 Contact: Press Office

Statement by John McCain on Senate Medicare Vote

ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain issued the following statement on today's Medicare vote by the United States Senate:

"Doctors are the heart of our health care system, and it is essential that they receive the funding needed to ensure quality care for our seniors. I fully support that aspect of this bill. However, Congressional leaders have once again decided to put partisan positioning over the well being of millions of our seniors. We should not hold our doctors and seniors hostage to political gamesmanship and political votes. While this bill does meet our obligation to provide proper reimbursements to Medicare physicians, it also rolls back important reforms, increases drug premiums, and places 2.3 million seniors at risk of losing the private health care coverage of their choice."

Regardless of whether you agree with his positions on the bill (I don't), shouldn't he at least bother to show up and make his voice heard. Isn't that his job still? Ted Kennedy is in treatment for brain cancer, and he made the vote! Obama has left the campaign trail several times over to vote. But evidently McCain thinks that saying he disagrees with the bill is close enough to doing his job in the Senate.

What a maverick.


  1. You won't be able to argue that Obama has abandoned his Senate duties less than McCain has. They're both skipping lots of votes.