Senate’s Efforts on Health Care May Be Slowed By Other Issues
The Wall Street Journal: "The Senate's slow-moving health bill is colliding with other legislative priorities on the economy, raising chances that Democrats won't meet their goal of pushing a health-care overhaul through the chamber this month. ... action on the bill has slowed sharply, with the war in Afghanistan and the struggling economy moving to the forefront of lawmakers' concerns." Meanwhile, Democrats are complaining that Republicans are trying to use parliamentary maneuvers to slow the measure's consideration but Republicans insist they merely want full debate on the issues. All the while, the Senate's to-do list includes passing "an increase to the nation's borrowing authority this month." Lawmakers also "hope to act this month to avert planned cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, scheduled to drop sharply next year" (Hitt and Bendavid, 12/4).
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's behind-the-scenes efforts to mvoe the bill. "As the Senate debate unfolds on the chamber floor, Reid has remained burrowed in his office, looking past the daily political drama playing out and, as he said recently, 'getting my deals done.'" Reid also "has been slow to tip his hand as he confronts uprisings from the left and right on major flashpoints, such as abortion coverage and a controversial public insurance plan."
Reid, an experienced deal-maker, has urged his Senate colleagues "to negotiate compromises among themselves and to bring their concerns directly to him," according to the Post. "The essence of Reid's calculus is to make sure that the cost of locking in one vote is not driving away another. Almost every Democratic senator has requested a favor or exemption of one form or another, senior Senate aides said" (Murray, 12/4).
Politico reports on the range of issues that are being tackled both on the floor of the Senate and in the chamber's back rooms. "After a three-day impasse, the Senate moved on the first four amendments to the health care legislation Thursday, but the public option, abortion and financing the plan remained serious obstacles to negotiating a final bill." Centrists, for instance, were negotiating the public option provision among themselves and "these gatherings are still noteworthy, if for nothing else than the seeing who goes in and out" (Budoff Brown, 11/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.