News in Brief: GOP Congress to Target Spending, and More

GOP Congress to Target Spending

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Republican majority set to take over the House this week is planning to slash government spending by tens of billions of dollars in the next few months, starting with a motion to repeal Obama’s health care law, which is not expected to pass the Democrat-majority Senate. Republicans will also introduce a measure to cut $25 million from the cost of operating the House itself, as well as a “recissions” package that will eliminate previously approved domestic spending of federal funds. Incoming GOP Congress members have consistently stated that their one priority this session is to cut spending.

Florida Governor Reassessing Public Hospitals

Florida’s Governor-elect, Rick Scott, has recommended creating a panel to study whether government-owned hospitals are necessary, The Miami Herald reports. Because the state did not fulfill its promised Medicaid reforms, Florida could lose $350 million in Lower Income Pool funds from the government, which are critical to public hospitals like Miami-Dade’s Jackson Health System. But Jackson’s history of financial and administrative issues shows that the government cannot be trusted to spend taxpayers’ money, according to business lobbyist Barney Bishop. Health Care Committee Chairman Alan Levine said that reassessing the role of government hospitals is important as large “safety net” hospitals around the country are converting from federal ownership to nonprofit status.

Barbara Mikulski Longest-Serving Female Senator in History

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) this week is set to become the longest serving female senator in US history, according to The Hill. She was first elected to the upper chamber in 1986. Mikulski, who has long been an advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights issues, will surpass Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine), who served for 24 years. Should she remain in office through March 2012, Mikulski will become the longest-serving female member in the history of Congress.

Andrew Cuomo Plans One-Year Freeze for State Workers

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will seek a one-year salary freeze for union workers as part of an emergency financial plan, The New York Times reports. The freeze will follow the New Year’s Eve layoffs of more than 900 state workers and will give Cuomo a chance to negotiate with government employees as the public continues to grow wary of them. Budget savings from a freeze are projected to be between $200 million and $400 million, which Citizens Budget Commission Vice President Elizabeth Lynam said would serve as a “beginning” to target public employee and organized labor benefits.