Parties Plot Strategies, Next Steps On Baucus Bill
Sen. Max Baucus' health reform bill has both parties plotting their next move in advance of a markup scheduled to begin next week.
Politico: "Senate Democrats emerged from their weekly luncheon pledging to pass health care reform with or without Republicans by the end of the year, despite the growing list of changes they expect to make to the Baucus bill. Finance Committee Republicans, meanwhile, huddled with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to chart the party's approach to next week's markup. The group was joined by the three Republicans who spent months negotiating with Baucus and two other Democrats" (Budoff Brown, 9/17).
Roll Call: Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate Democratic Conference vice chairman of New York, "said Finance Democrats are charting a path that seeks agreement among themselves - and possibly with moderate GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine). Schumer described the [Democrats-only meeting of Finance panel members]as detailed and collegial, which is notable given the criticism Baucus' package received from Democrats upon its Wednesday unveiling" (Drucker, 9/17).
Consensus remains elusive, McClatchy reports: "Baucus... found that one of his key goals had slipped away: finding Republican support. Among moderates who've sided with Democrats often on fiscal issues in the past, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a Finance Committee member, also voiced concerns about the middle class, while Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that while she was pleased that Baucus' bill had no public option, she was worried that the package 'does not do enough to lower health care costs for all Americans'" (Lightman, 9/17).
The Associated Press with more from the Democrats' luncheon: "Inside, according to numerous officials, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio rejected Baucus' proposal for non-profit cooperatives to compete with private industry in selling insurance. He urged a liberal-backed alternative in which the government would offer competition. Concerns were voiced, too, that the federal subsidies are too skimpy to do much good for hard-pressed, middle-income families who would be under a requirement to purchase insurance. That was a point raised earlier in the week by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a member of the committee Baucus chairs" (Espo, 9/17).
The Associated Press in a second story: "The Baucus plan 'needs more than just a few tweaks,' said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a member of the Finance Committee, saying she wanted stronger measures to control health care costs over the long term. 'Put it in perspective,' (Illinois Sen. Dick) Durbin added. 'For months, the debate over health care in the Senate consisted of six people sitting in a room. Now it's been expanded. So we have a lot of people who need to become informed, express themselves, ask for changes if they can,' Durbin said" (Werner, 9/18).
Other Senate Democrats continue their push for inclusion of a public plan, CongressDaily reports.
The Washington Independent/The New Mexico Independent reports that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., repeated her opposition to a public plan, saying she forsees a "very limited opportunity, if any, for me to support a public option." (DeLong, 9/17).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a public plan will likely be part of a House bill that passes this fall. CQ Politics: "While she wouldn't predict when the House will finally vote on its bill, she said again that her goal is to get a health care overhaul on President Obama's desk this year. And she also wouldn't say if she will wait for a bill to pass the Senate before bringing a House version to the floor for a vote" (9/17).
In the House, the Energy and Commerce committee will begin its second markup of their health care reform bill Wednesday, CongressDaily reports in a second story (9/18).