Baucus Welcomes Delay in Senate Vote on Health Care Reform Legislation
On Thursday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said the decision by the chamber's leadership to delay a full floor vote on health reform legislation would alleviate the pressure on his committee to complete a bill, Roll Call reports.
Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) confirmed that the Senate would not vote on a reform bill before it adjourns for a month-long recess on Aug. 7.
Emerging from a four-hour meeting with five other Finance Committee members, Baucus told reporters, "I think [the delay is] helping a little because this is so complicated and senators want to feel comfortable with what they're doing."
The group of six includes:
- Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.);
- Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D);
- Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.);
- Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa); and
- Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).
Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf and an official from the Joint Taxation Committee also participated in some of the discussions.
Baucus declined to discuss details of the bipartisan negotiations, saying only that the talks revolved around cost-control provisions. He described the meeting as "very, very productive."
Conrad said that Thursday's discussions were "very intense" and that the group is waiting for additional scoring on some provisions of the committee's bill. He said, "By far the most important thing is that we get this right," adding, "But I feel very good about the progress that's being made" (Drucker , Roll Call, 7/23).
Freshman Democrats Voice Support for Baucus
In a letter to Baucus released on Thursday, a group of nine freshman Democratic senators pledged their support for the committee's bipartisan efforts and urged the committee to ensure the bill controls costs.
The letter was signed by Sens.:
- Mark Begich (Alaska);
- Michael Bennet (Colo.);
- Roland Burris (Ill.);
- Kay Hagan (N.C.);
- Jeff Merkley (Ore.);
- Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.);
- Tom Udall (N.M.);
- Mark Udall (Colo.); and
- Mark Warner (Va.) (Young, The Hill, 7/23).
Baucus Hears Finance Democrats' Frustrations
On Thursday, some Finance Committee Democrats criticized Baucus for sharing limited information about bipartisan health reform negotiations, Roll Call reports.
Finance Subcommittee on Health Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) also expressed frustration that he and other panel members have not been involved in the "real" discussions with the group (Pierce, Roll Call, 7/23).
Baucus said, "I made it clear to the group, too, that any proposal that the group of six comes up with will be just that: a proposal," adding, "This is just part of the process. I can't negotiate a proposal with all members of the Finance Committee in the same room. There's just too many people" (Drucker , Roll Call, 7/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.