Stimulus package, Medicaid funding delayed until 2009

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Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)
An economic stimulus package that contained up to $37.8 billion in additional Medicaid funding for states has been shelved until January 2009.

Two different versions of the plan were introduced in both the House and the Senate recently. The two chambers of Congress could not reconcile their differences in time to pass either measure, while Republicans railed against what they considered an unnecessary increase in the budget deficit.

President-elect Obama has said a stimulus package is a top priority, and his newly appointed chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has said that passing the stimulus package will be the "first order of business" in the new year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In other news, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) seized the role of chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from longtime leader John Dingell (D-MI) in a dramatic and unprecedented move. Waxman won a secret-ballot election among House Democrats Thursday by a vote of 137 to 122. In doing so, he upset a pecking-order process that had been in place for at least three decades. One of the committee's primary functions is to oversee the implementation of healthcare policy and reform.