Democrats have failed to persuade their Republican colleagues to authorize all drilling reservists and members of the National Guard to take part in the TriCare military health care system.[@@]
Partisan wrangling and back-and-forth votes on the matter took place shortly before Memorial Day when stories of combat in Iraq dominated the news.
Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., spearheaded the Democratic effort to put a TriCare expansion measure back into a $442 billion defense authorization after House Armed Services Committee Chair Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., pulled it before Wednesday’s vote. Previously, Taylor had won a 32-30 bipartisan vote to include the health care expansion in the bill. But he failed in efforts to put the measure back.
“Somewhere between the committee and the Rules Committee, someone decided that there was mandatory spending involved,” Taylor said on the House floor last week, according to a written version of his remark printed in the Congressional Record. “So the same Congress that has brought 21 bills to the floor that waived all budgetary rules, no matter how much it ran up the deficit, the same Congress that has added $2.2 trillion to the national debt in just four years, that decided Paris Hilton can inherit hundreds of millions of dollars without paying a penny in taxes, decided because there was $5 million mandatory spending, these National Guardsmen could no longer buy into that policy.”