Earlier this afternoon, the House passed a short-term spending bill to keep the government open another three weeks. The measure will cut $6 billion of spending during that time, and passed with both Democratic and Republican support by a 271-158 margin.
But while passage of the spending bill itself was a fairly routine matter, it got interesting when Democrats were given an opportunity to offer an amendment that would have protected both Social Security and Medicare from privatization. Here's the text:
SEC. 295. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to develop or implement a system that cuts Social Security benefits, or that privatizes Social Security.
SEC. 296. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to develop or implement a system that cuts Medicare benefits, eliminates guaranteed health coverage for seniors, or establishes a Medicare voucher plan that limits payments to beneficiaries in order to purchase health care in the private sector.
As you might have guessed, the Republicans overwhelming voted it down, even though the amendment wouldn't have done anything other than ensure that no money is spent on privatizing Social Security or Medicare. Only one Republican voted to oppose Social Security and Medicare privatization, Walter Jones of North Carolina. (Update: Here's the roll call.)
Although it would have been great to have actually added the Democratic amendment to the final bill, at least members of the House are now on record on whether they believe Social Security and Medicare should be protected from privatization. And with one exception, Republicans believe they don't.