HELP Committee Chairman: Senate Will Work Weekends On Health Bill
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Monday that the Senate will work weekends in December to try to pass a health care reform bill, The Hill reports. During an interview on the Bill Press Radio Show, he also predicted "that the Senate will have the 60 votes needed to call up the healthcare bill this week." Harkin added that Senate Democrats are expecting Republicans to try to read the whole bill on the floor and that Democratic leadership will likely keep the Senate in session this weekend to let them read through the bill 24 hours a day (O'Brien, 11/16).
USA Today On Politics blog: Also during the radio program, Harkin said the Senate's vote "to allow the debate to start likely will take place this Friday, but it won't be until after Thanksgiving that the Senate will entertain amendments. ... 'That's when it will all begin,' he said of Nov. 30." Harkin said he expects a vote on the bill "shortly before Christmas." A House-Senate conference committee would then begin their work on crafting a final bill in early January "with the goal of getting it to the president by mid-January." Harkin also reiterated that Senate Democrats are awaiting a revised cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office that combines elements from both the Senate Finance and Senate HELP bills (Kiely, 11/16).
Bloomberg: But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Spokesman Jim Manley said Monday that there will be no Congressional Budget Office score of a Senate health care reform bill today, "although it may come tomorrow or Wednesday, Manley said." He also said Reid hopes to bring the legislation to the floor "as soon as possible" after receiving the score (Jensen and Litvan, 11/16).
In the meantime, Senate Democratic press secretaries are circulating talking points on health care reform labeling Republicans as "defenders of the status quo," Hotline On Call reports. The talking points say "GOPers and opponents of the bill are showing 'panic and desperation' as momentum for the measure builds, and Dems will say their foes are siding with an insurance industry that is actively mobilizing to defeat the measure" (Wilson, 11/16).