Senate to vote this week on new federal budget

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote this week on a federal budget that promises to balance itself in nine years through billions of cuts in social programs and billions of extra dollars to defense.

While it's unclear exactly what the Medicare and Medicaid budgets will look like when the dust settles, the GOP appeared committed to dismantling parts of the president's signature healthcare law.

The Republican-dominated House last week narrowly approved (226-197) a proposed budget that includes $600 billion in cuts to programs like nutrition assistance, cash assistance to low-income seniors and people with disabilities, and refundable tax credits for the working poor, according to the Associated Press.

Lawmakers are reportedly adopting a “visionary” budget followed by actual smaller binding laws that set agency budgets, fiddle with tax rates or tweak entitlement program benefits. While this plan could include $5 trillion in spending cuts, legislation attacking Medicare, food stamps, Pell grants, or Medicaid is unlikely to gain traction before the 2016 election, the AP noted. Republican lawmakers also are hopeful tax subsidies in the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid will be jettisoned by the courts, observers say. 

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