The U.S. Senate was poised to give Washington and other states a hint today at whether they should keep counting on extra Medicaid money. That could have signaled whether Gov. Chris Gregoire would be calling a special session to handle an expected budget shortfall.
But the vote on a special amendment on Federal Medical Assistance Percentages was delayed until at least Wednesday.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was going to sponsor the amendment and speak on it Monday afternoon, but Majority Leader Harry Reid bumped it back two days on the calendar. A spokesman for Murray said they are double checking figures that explain how the money will be paid for without adding to the deficit, which Republicans are demanding. They'll also be using the time to try to round up more votes.
Even if the amendment gets introduced, gets killed by a filibuster or doesn't pass the Senate, that may be the last shot the Senate will take before going on its August recess. Gregoire will have to decide -- special session or across the board cuts.
If it survives any attempt to filibuster it to death and passes the Senate, there's another small problem: The House of Representatives is on recess until September. They could be called back for a vote, but then again, they're pretty busy doing the things reps do when not in the other Washington...like running for re-election.
Washington needs the FMAP to fill in a projected budget gap and provide an ending fund balance to move into the 2011-12 biennium. Gregoire said she hoped to decide this week about a special session.