The Arizona House Appropriations Committee stripped Medicaid expansion from the state budget proposal Monday, setting the stage for a House floor fight later this week when proponents try to add it back in by amendment.
That would follow the path it took in the state Senate, where it was approved in a floor amendment with a coalition of Republican and Democratic lawmakers on a 19-11 vote more than three weeks ago.
The House committee vote was 7-4, along party lines, with Republicans voting against the Medicaid expansion. It came on Senate Bill 1492, the health and welfare spending bill that is part of a 10-bill package that makes up the state budget.
It was the first House action on the 2013-14 budget, which passed the Senate and must be in place by the start of the new fiscal year, July 1. Further budget action is expected in the House later this week.
The approval came after a lengthy hearing, which ended with the vote. Impassioned speeches by several committee members defined the two sides clearly.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, the committee's chair, said the expansion would add to the federal debt, would eliminate private sector incentives for free-market health insurance and would violate the requirement that two-thirds of the Legislature approve any tax increase.
"This isn't tax and spend; this is borrow and spend," Kavanagh said, adding that the federal government is borrowing to spend at a rate of $1 trillion more than it is collecting in tax revenues.
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, the House minority leader, said expanding Medicaid will bring federal tax dollars back to the state.
"If we do not pull this money back down, we are throwing away our tax dollars that are going to D.C.," Campbell said. "Anything we do on this committee today is not going to change what's going on in D.C."
All 24 House Democrats are expected to support Medicaid expansion, and eight Republican House members have been identified as being willing to join them in the vote.