Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) announced a new bill on Friday to increase funding for Social Security and Medicare and institute a higher standard for making cuts to the entitlement programs, following President Biden’s pointed accusations during his annual address before Congress on Tuesday.
“I have been fighting since day one to protect and preserve programs like Social Security and Medicare for Florida’s seniors, and today I am proud to announce new legislation, my Protect Our Seniors Act, to safeguard the benefits of these critical entitlements,” Scott said in a press release.
The legislation aims to rescind the nearly $80 billion in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that was approved in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act and redirect it towards Social Security and Medicare. The IRS funding has been a frequent target of Republicans, who have denounced it as creating an “army of 87,000 IRS agents.”
The bill would also require that any cuts to Social Security or Medicare be approved by a two-thirds vote in Congress and would block Medicare savings from being used for other spending initiatives.
It is unclear how this legislation fits in with Scott’s previous proposal, which has been at the center of the recent dispute with Biden and Democrats.
In an 11-point plan released last February, Scott suggested that all federal legislation should sunset after five years, and “if a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.” This would mean that Social Security and Medicare, like other federal legislation, would need to be renewed by Congress every five years.
Biden earned a sharp response from Republicans during his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, when he suggested that some GOP lawmakers also wanted the entitlement programs to sunset. Although he declined to name specific individuals, Biden appeared to be pointing to Scott’s proposal.
“It is being proposed by individuals. I’m politely not naming them, but it’s being proposed by some of you,” Biden said.
After the speech, Scott doubled down on his original proposal and accused Biden of lying about his plan, calling it “a dishonest move … from a very confused president,” even inviting the president to debate him while he visited his home state.
The Florida Republican has received lukewarm support from his own party for the original proposal, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday calling it “the Rick Scott plan” and “not the Republican plan.”