MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer
HELENA House Republicans were getting ready this morning to cut the social services budget by billions to a total of just about $400. The drastic move is meant to force Democrats to start voting for the Republican budget bills. A showdown over the Department of Health and Human Services Budget was scheduled for this morning. The caustic political environment is the result of one of the tightest elections in recent memory. Control of the chamber hinged on just four votes, which tipped one House race in a recount and gave the GOP the majority. Leading Democrats said they remain steadfast in opposition to the Republican budget bills. Democrats want the chamber to resuscitate the governor’s budget. GOP leaders will first offer amendments to restore the DPHHS budget to levels very close to what Gov. Brian Schweitzer sought. But they don’t have enough support in their own caucus to move those increases and will need Democratic votes. If that fails, the Republicans then plan to strip the entire DPHHS budget “force Democrats to be functional,” said Rep. Bill Glaser, R-Huntley. Republicans run the chamber, with the help of Constitutional Party Rep. Rick Jore of Ronan, with just a 51-49 margin. Glaser said the House has become “dysfunctional”, and he blames Democrats for not going along with the GOP budget plans. Even Republicans are saying they hope Democrats that run the Senate will restore the money. House Minority Leader John Parker, D-Great Falls, said Republicans are trying to “bargain” with the lives of seniors and children that are dependent on such programs as Medicaid and others that help the poor.