Divided Republicans, getting snippy

Tensions flare as Republicans fight Republicans over budget priorities.

By Tim Grieve
Published March 18, 2005 5:40PM (EST)

While Harry Reid has had some success in holding Democrats together on Social Security, Bill Frist suddenly seems to be having a harder time keeping his Republican charges in check.

Although Frist managed to get oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge rammed into the budget resolution, a half dozen Republican senators, including John McCain, went the other way. McCain and a handful of other Republicans have expressed wariness of moving toward the "nuclear option" on judicial nominees. And Thursday in the Senate, seven Republicans joined the Democrats in rejecting cuts to Medicaid proposed by the president.

The tensions are starting to show. Sen. Gordon Smith, the Oregon Republican who proposed cutting the cuts, put the issue in moral terms. According to the account in today's New York Times, Smith said:"I think a lot of us have trouble just looking at a ledger while ignoring some of the most sensitive needs of the poor." In response, Sen. Judd Gregg, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, laid into his Republican colleague for turning his back on fiscal discipline. "You know," Gregg said, "you just have to ask yourself how they get up in the morning and look in the mirror."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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