It’s Official: No Senate Vote On Health Reform Before Recess
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Thursday said the Senate will be unable to pass health care reform before it leaves for its August recess, which will likely result in changes to the shape of the final bill, The Washington Post reports.
"The comments by Reid (D-Nev.) confirmed the growing consensus on Capitol Hill that the White House's fast-track approach has failed, and that a more plodding and contentious process has taken hold."
"When Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee met Thursday morning ... Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) questioned new Medicare formulas that could penalize high-cost states such as his. Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), who represents millions of elderly constituents, also expressed doubts about Medicare cuts that could add up to $500 billion over 10 years. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.) lambasted the panel's tentative decision to support the creation of member-run cooperatives rather than the government insurance plan that he and many other Democrats prefer." Some Democrats fear dropping the cooperative idea endangers the prospects of securing the backing of the Finance Committee's ranking Republican Sen. Charles Grassley (Murray, Kane and Fletcher, 7/24).
Politico: "Democratic Finance Committee members not directly involved in the bipartisan talks warned Baucus that their votes could not be taken for granted as he works toward a deal with Republicans. 'Don't think we are so desperate. We are not going to fall into line,' (Rockefeller) said, describing the message Democrats delivered to Baucus. 'I'm not allowed into the meetings, the real meetings they have, what they call the coalition of the willing. It is a really, really bad way to try and develop support and ideas. So the whole philosophy is, if we can get these three Republicans, we can call it bipartisan, but I don't think any of you (in the media) are going to think it is particularly bipartisan'" (Brown and Frates, 7/24).
In the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, acting chairman Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., told The Hill "that even though there won't be a floor vote until September, the (HELP) Committee should keep working with the Senate Finance Committee on drafting a bill. 'That doesn't excuse, obviously, our committees from doing everything we can over the remaining weeks here before the August break, as well as during that August break, to try and meld our ideas and bills together,' Dodd said" (Soraghan and Allen, 7/23).
CQPolitics: "Senate Democrats have one silver lining to look forward to, however: Finance Chairman Max Baucus , D-Mont., said he hoped to have his legislation out of committee before Congress leaves ... Baucus welcomed Reid's decision to wait until after the recess for floor action. 'I think it helps a little, because it's so complicated and Sen. Reid has to be comfortable with what we're doing,' he said Thursday evening. He and Reid are to meet with Obama on Friday" (Armstrong and Wayne, 7/24).
Freshmen Senators are still urging Baucus to continue his bipartisan reform talks, Roll Call reports: "In a letter to Baucus, the Senators urge the Montana Democrat to continue his efforts to craft a health care bill that can garner Republican support. They also praised the six bipartisan negotiators' focus on reducing overall health care costs" (Pierce, 7/23).