The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives might vote for huge cuts to Medicaid, student aid and food stamps this week when they take up the budget. What will Shays, Simmons and Johnson do?PHOTO: Ellen Scalettar, a senior policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, calls on Republican Congressmen Chris Shays, Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson to vote “No.” Democratic state Senators Donald Williams, Edith Prague, Bill Finch, Toni Harp and Chris Murphy observe.
A group of Democratic state Senators gathered in Hartford Monday to call attention to the budget vote. The proposed federal spending plan could result in the loss of $381 million in Medicaid funds for Connecticut, Appropriations co-chair Toni Harp (D-New Haven) said, meaning state officials would have to reassess what health care priorities they can afford to keep. For example, dental care for children might come on the chopping block, Harp said, which would be a mistake.“As you know, the mouth is part of the overall body,” Harp said. Congressman John Larson and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro pledged to vote no, Scalettar said, The state’s three Republican congressmen have pubilcly expressed concerns over one piece of the budget- a provision allowing for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Johnson opted in favor of the budget in the House Ways and Means Committee last month in a party line vote. As the House’s Republican leadership trolls for votes, moderates like Shays are seen as crucial to their efforts. If the full House approves the budget, it would still have to be reconciled with a Senate version passed last week.