Congressional Leaders Aim To Complete Health Care Reform This Year
After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a motion Tuesday that could allow the Senate to begin debating health care legislation next week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday unveiled a revised schedule for that chamber aimed at ensuring completion of health care reform by year's end, The Hill reports.
"As action on health insurance reform legislation moves to the Senate, the House is updating its schedule for November and December to reflect that, and to ensure there is time to complete our work on other important issues," Hoyer said in a statement (Fabian/Swanson, The Hill, 11/11).
While a schedule made by Hoyer earlier in the year anticipated that the House could adjourn on Oct. 30 and a subsequent revision predicted adjournment on Dec. 18, the new schedule keeps the House in session for the weeks of Nov. 16, Nov. 30 and Dec. 14. Hoyer said votes also could be scheduled for Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, the week of Christmas (CQ Today, 11/11).
The Hill reports that at this point, progress on reform depends on the Senate. Before the Senate begins discussion on its legislation, it must first vote on a motion to proceed, a move that requires 60 votes. It remains unclear whether some senators who caucus with Democrats will support that procedural vote.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he intends to do everything in his power to slow the bill's progress.
The Senate is waitingÂ for theÂ Congressional Budget Office toÂ score its bill, but Reid indicated Tuesday that he might begin the debate process on the bill even without CBO's analysis (The Hill, 11/11). Health reform is expected to dominate the Senate's agenda for the remainder of 2009.
Reid has not unveiled an official schedule for the rest of the year, but Reid spokesperson Jim Manley said that the chamber "will be in session as long as necessary" (Brady, Roll Call, 11/11).
President Obama has long said that he wants health reform legislation to be completed by the end of 2009 (CQ Today, 11/11).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reiterated that goal Tuesday, telling constituents, "I'm hopeful that we will have a bill as a Christmas present for the American people" (O'Brien, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 11/11).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.