Divide Deepens Between Senate Finance Democrats and Republicans
The New York Times: "Senate Democrats swatted down Republican attempts to make fundamental changes in their health care legislation on Wednesday as the Finance Committee voted on a wide range of amendments that highlighted the deep partisan divide over the bill."
During the day's events, "Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, accused the Republicans of 'delay tactics.' Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, said, 'There is a substantial slow-walk taking place in this committee.' (Finance Chairman Sen. Max) Baucus said he hoped the committee would approve the bill this week, so it could be merged with a separate bill approved in July by the Senate health committee." Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, has indicated that the full Senate could start debate early next month.
"Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, tested the patience of Democrats by peppering the committee staff with questions about the bill. 'If this were some itty-bitty bill, I could back off very easily,' Mr. Hatch said. 'But this is not some itty-bitty bill. It could wreck the country.'" And still, there remains much to be done, with many of the bill's most contentious issues yet to be considered by the panel (Pear and Calmes, 9/23).
Roll Call: "At the current pace, Baucus said it remained unclear if he could finish the markup by week's end, as he had originally hoped. The Finance chairman said he is trying to accommodate the desire of Senators to have a full and fair debate on each amendment, but he signaled he has little patience for stalling tactics. Baucus, in his effort to keep the process on track, occasionally rankled some Republicans with his efforts to speed things up. In a brief interview during a break in the markup earlier Wednesday, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said part of Baucus' duty as Finance chairman was to ensure that all committee members were given ample time to debate each amendment" (Drucker, 9/23).