While Some Votes Are Still In Play, Other Lawmakers Vie For Audience With Reid
Members are fighting for a seat at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's table as he merges the Senate's two versions of health legislation in order to bring the measure to the floor.
Politico: "Reid's guest list will be an exclusive one. Reid has decided to keep the group intimate, limiting entree to Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.); Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who ushered the bill through the Senate health committee; and top White House aides, according to a Senate leadership source." Some, including Sen. Jay Rockefeller, are likely to be left out because Reid considers keeping the table small his greatest chance at merging the bills quickly (Budoff Brown, 10/7).
Baucus has his own problems outside the squabbling going on in the Finance Committee and the high-stakes negotiations surrounding the final shape of the bill. Roll Call reports on the challenges he is hearing from his home state. "Sen. Jon Tester and Gov. Brian Schweitzer have taken issue with the section of Baucus' health care package that calls for the states to contribute to the cost of expanding Medicaid eligibility as a means to provide coverage to millions of uninsured, middle-income Americans who are not poor enough to qualify." The men think Baucus' bill doesn't do enough to offset the costs to the states to pay for a Medicaid expansion (Drucker, 10/7).
And, according to The Washington Post, Sen. Olympia Snowe's vote is still in play. "The Maine Republican is the only member of her party considered to be a serious conversion prospect. But although Snowe supported Democrats on many key amendments during the committee's two-week debate on the legislation, she's being cryptic about her intentions -- to say the least. 'Did they get in my brain yet?' she wondered of all the speculators, during a lengthy conversation Tuesday afternoon with reporters. 'They've got me voting yes, preserving my leverage. Voting no, preserving my leverage. It's all about what I'm comfortable doing at the end of the day'" (Murray, 10/6).
Meanwhile, Sen. Ben Nelson, of Nebraska, has warmed to a public option, though not the ones voted on in committee, The New York Times reports: "At least one opponent of a public option, Senator Ben Nelson, the Nebraska Democrat, said Tuesday that he was warming to a compromise proposal floated last week by another Democrat, Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware. Mr. Carper has suggested leaving it to the states to decide whether to offer government-sponsored insurance plan, the so-called public option." Carper hasn't offered specifics on the proposal (Stolberg, 10/6).
Roll Call in a second story reports that Sen. Ron Wyden's criticism of the Finance Committee's health bill was met with resentment from some Democratic leaders. "Though some see Wyden as a nuisance who has unnecessarily occupied the White House and Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) valuable time, many said he has not been afforded the courtesy that he deserved during the Finance Committee process, given his long-standing push to overhaul the health care system" (Pierce, 10/7).
Finally, the GOP has backed off efforts to get a formal reprimand for a Florida Democrat - Rep. Alan Grayson - who said the Republican Party just wanted sick people to "die quickly," The Associated Press/The Seattle Times reports. A spokesman for Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who led the push, said voters should decide approval or disapproval of Grayson (Evans, 10/6).