Enzi Likely To Chair Senate HELP Committee, Replacing Gregg
Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) is expected to replace Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for the 109th Congress, but the anticipated change "likely will have little impact on the panel, given the similarities" between the two "low-key conservatives," CQ Today reports (Swindell, CQ Today, 11/5).
While Enzi's positions on most health care issues are "unclear," he has been an "outspoken" advocate for limiting noneconomic damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, and some analysts predict Enzi will make malpractice reform legislation "a bigger priority," CongressDaily reports. Enzi also co-sponsored a reimportation bill authored by Gregg, as well as legislation that would allow confidential reporting of medical errors (Heil, CongressDaily, 11/5). In addition, Enzi "will bring a greater emphasis" to the impact of health care law on "rural Americans," according to CQ Today.
A former accountant and shoe store owner, Enzi also is "a strong ally of business interests," but he will be "able to work with" ranking Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.) "to move legislation," CQ Today reports. Enzi currently chairs the committee's Employment, Safety and Training Subcommittee, where he has fought against efforts to increase regulation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CQ Today, 11/5). "In terms of health care, we are just waiting to see where he will go," an unnamed GOP lobbyist said, adding, "He hasn't really played a big role in many of the biggest health care issues." Karen Ignani, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, said she thinks Enzi "will become a leader" in the push for malpractice reform (CongressDaily, 11/5). Gregg is expected to be named chair of the Budget Committee, according to an unnamed Republican Senate aide (CQ Today, 11/5).