This evening the US Senate voted yet again to try to end the Republican filibuster on a jobs package that included extending enhanced FMAP – federal Medicaid reimbursements – to Massachusetts and other states. The Senate leadership had slimmed down the package, reducing the aid that would come to Massachusetts, and so reducing the cost (and effectiveness) of the bill. Again, Senator Brown voted no. While a strong majority – 57 Senators – voted yes, this was not the 60 votes needed to allow the issue to come to a vote.
Today’s budget laid out starkly what will happen in Massachusetts without the FMAP funds – cuts to health, education, public safety, children’s program and more.
Responses were swift and furious. Governor Patrick:
“Senator Brown isn’t in favor of extending unemployment benefits for Massachusetts citizens or getting relief to states to avoid more harmful cuts to health care, education and public safety. Because of that, more people will lose jobs and the safety net will be in jeopardy at the very time people need help the most.
“He has a right to his opinion. But he isn’t just expressing an opinion, he is preventing a final vote on the merits – a vote that if taken would be successful. The thousands of Massachusetts citizens who are going to be impacted by his decision deserve to have an up or down vote on the merits of the bill. The fact is both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate have passed extensions to FMAP, every other member of our congressional delegation supports it, and the President included it in his budget. That is why Massachusetts, along with close to 30 other states, included it in their budgets.
“We have already made $4.5 billion in cuts to programs and services that our constituents rely upon, and eliminated over 2600 state jobs. People are feeling the impact of those unavoidable cuts already and if Senator Brown stands in the way of an up or down vote on this bill even more people and families will be hurt.”
The vote was “one of the worst moments I’ve seen in 25 years in the United State Senate.
“In times of economic trouble, our country expects Democrats and Republicans to pull together and do the basics. Now, after eight weeks of debate and after every effort to make changes and find common ground, the Minority Leader has again found a way to unify his caucus to block legislation that extends unemployment benefits, creates jobs and provides hundreds of millions of dollars in desperately needed assistance for states. This is a terrible blow to Massachusetts. Even cutting our original proposal nearly in half wasn’t enough to secure even one Republican vote today. This can cost our state half a billion dollars in Medicaid funding, jeopardize our seniors’ access to Medicare benefits, and strip unemployment benefits from almost a hundred thousand laid-off workers in Massachusetts.”
It’s time to raise our voices. On Monday at noon, join us outside Scott Brown’s Boston office (at the JFK Federal Building, adjoining City Hall Plaza on Cambridge Street) to demand loudly that Senator Brown vote for the needs of Massachusetts, not politics leaders.
You can download a flyer here. Please share this with your friends and colleagues, and join us Monday.