Lawmakers headed for the Senate floor to sound off on Medicare just one day after a Democrat won an open Congressional seat in a very Republican district. She made Medicare reform her central issue -- and her fellow Democrats say, that was the key to her victory.
The Democrats won a big victory Tuesday night in Upstate New York
Kathy Hochul took an open Congressional seat held by the GOP for years. And Senate Democrats say there was one reason
Democratic Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid said, "The Republican candidate pushing the Republican plan to kill Medicare was rejected in a very Republican district."
The Democrats want to take that message into the 2012 elections-- as they try to win back seats they lost last year. But Republicans say that message is wrong.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said, "Describing this policy as ending Medicare for seniors is irresponsible and factually false."
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan - who authored the plan - released a video on YouTube hours after the election - responding to what he calls "false attacks".
Ryan's proposal does not change Medicare for Americans over 55. Those under that age would need private coverage - with the government paying for part of the premiums.
The plan is controversial - even within the GOP - several Republican Senators have said they will not vote for it.
And now Senate Democrats are calling for that vote right away. They want to get as many Republicans on the record as they can -- supporting big changes to Medicare.
Democrats hope that strategy will help get them the votes of people like 69 year old Emma Kaplan next year.
New Jersey Resident Emma Kaplan, "I think there's waste in government they need to deal with more than cut programs for seniors"
But, Republicans argue that if the government is serious about cutting spending - then Medicare has to be on the table.
The budget up for a vote in the Senate today passed the House by a wide margin -- supported by all but a handful of Republicans.