Dodd Rejects HELP Chairmanship, Skeptical Dems Sound Off On Reform
The Washington Post: "Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has decided against succeeding his close friend and mentor, the late Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) as chairman of the Senate's health committee, a senior Senate aide said Tuesday night. ... Dodd's decision leaves the chairmanship of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who follows Dodd in seniority. Multiple sources in the Harkin orbit, requesting anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said that he is certain to take over the HELP committee" (Kane, 8/8).
The Hill: "Like Dodd, Harkin is a proponent of the public option, which has not been included in the healthcare proposal released by the Finance Committee." (Rushing and Young, 9/8).
Meanwhile, other Democrats continue to be skeptical about specific elements of health care reform proposals.
In a separate story, The Hill reports that another Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson, is telling Democratic leadership not to count on his vote for health care reform. "He told The Hill, 'I'm not going to commit anything at this point in time on procedural votes, neither pro nor con, because it will depend on the circumstances. I can't make those decisions in advance because it depends on what the bill is and what the circumstances are at the time.' He added, 'Otherwise, you're just giving away your vote no matter what the underlying circumstance is, and I'm just not prepared to do that'" (Rushing and Stoddard, 9/9).
Rep. Mike Ross, a leader of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats, has rejected the idea of a public option in reform, The Associated Press reports in a separate story: "It could be a sign of big trouble ahead for President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders trying to push health legislation through Congress. Most House liberals say they won't support a bill without a public plan. In July, Ross took the lead in negotiating changes to House Democrats' health overhaul bill to make it more palatable to moderates. He voted for it in committee with a public plan. But Ross said that after hearing from constituents over the recess he could not support a bill with a public plan" (9/8).
Roll Call also has a story regarding the impact of Ross' position on the public plan and his role in reform negotiations so far (Dennis, 9/8).