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Lawmaker%3A Spend Drug Funding On Gulf Coast

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Congress could come up with some money for rebuilding communities hit by Hurricane Katrina by postponing the rollout of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit program.[@@]

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., says the federal government needs to cut spending on what he calls “big ticket items” to offset the cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

Congress “can’t allow a catastrophe of nature to become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren,” Pence said Sunday on a morning news show on ABC.

House Republicans estimate killing the Medicare drug benefit, which is set to take effect in 2006, could save $40 billion per year.

House Republicans also are looking hard at items to cut from a new $286 billion federal highway bill.