Congress confident it can beat Bush veto of Medicare bill

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Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill Friday said they believed they could override a presidential veto of a Medicare bill that would block implementation of therapy caps and halt a 10.6% cut in Medicare physician pay.

In a show of obstinacy, President Bush Thursday declared his intentions to stifle the bill, despite it having been passed by a "veto-proof" majority in both the House and the Senate. If he vetoes the bill, the House would vote first, needing 290 votes to override. The Senate would need 67 votes.

The House passed the legislation on June 25 with a vote of 355-59, making its override all but assured. The override possibility in the Senate, which only approved the bill on Wednesday with a 69-30 vote, is a bit less secure. Many Senate Republicans originally opposed to the measure switched their vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) remains confident, however, that he has enough votes to bypass the president and turn the proposal into law.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had issued a temporary delay on physician pay cuts until July 15 to allow lawmakers more time to pass the legislation. No such temporary delay was given for the therapy caps exceptions process provision.