Obama Works to Settle Key Republican Senator’s Concerns on Reform
During a lunch meeting Wednesday to discuss plans to proceed with health care reform legislation, Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said President Obama indicated that he favors a bipartisan solution, the Des Moines Register reports.
The meeting also included Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Vice President Joe Biden.
Grassley said, "I would say I got a great deal of confidence that the White House prefers a bipartisan agreement," adding, "The implication was that the president needs to be in the center of this thing to move things along" (Beaumont, Des Moines Register, 5/7).
Grassley also said, "I think that there's an understanding that our working together is the best opportunity for bipartisanship" (Meckler, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 5/6).
During the meeting, Grassley expressed concern over whether Democrats would use the budget reconciliation process to move reform legislation, despite Baucus previously saying he does not want to use the process.
Under reconciliation, legislation can be passed in the Senate with a simple majority, rather than the usual 60 votes.
Grassley said, "I brought up the prospects of that happening. There's always a problem in negotiating in good faith and the rug could be pulled under at the midnight hour," but "I can tell you I'm satisfied [Obama] sincerely wants a bipartisan agreement" (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 5/6).
Baucus told reporters that he reiterated his opposition to using the tactic during the meeting (Youngman/Young, The Hill, 5/6).
However, Grassley also said he told Obama, Baucus and Biden that because reconciliation is a possibility, "It ... put me into the position of negotiating at the same time a Republican alternative," because "if we don't have a bipartisan agreement, we have to have a constructive alternative" ("Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 5/6).
According to Grassley, there was no discussion during the meeting of how a health care overhaul would be funded. He said that "it's an issue we probably all want to avoid but we obviously have to deal with it" (CQ HealthBeat, 5/6).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.