It May Be August, But Lawmakers Aren’t Taking A Break From Health Reform RhetoricThe New York Times: "An aide to the (Senate Finance) Committee said Monday that (the six senators trying to forge bipartisanship on a health care reform bill) would hold a teleconference call this week. Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and the committee chairman, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican, have talked many times during the recess, the aide said. But the call will mark the entire group's first discussion since the recess began" (Seelye, 8/18).
The New York Times also has an update on Baucus' role: "The willingness of Mr. Baucus to buck Democrats (by, for instance, supporting the Bush tax cuts of 2001) and irritate Republicans (by, for instance, supporting a divisive Medicare bill last year) has earned him distrust in both parties. But the senator, who is generally considered moderate, has across-the-aisle credibility on financial matters, and his committee is viewed by many as the best remaining hope for a bipartisan health bill" (Leibovich, 8/19).
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, of Arizona, said concerns over illegal immigrant inclusion in reform are not unfounded, Roll Call reports. "'It's a logical question for people to ask,' Kyl said during a conference call with reporters, maintaining that during last year's State Children's Health Insurance Program debate and other legislative fights, Democrats blocked efforts by Republicans to include curbs on health care for illegal immigrants" (Stanton, 8/19).
The Democrats, in the meanwhile, are relying on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to move their agenda, The Wall Street Journal reports: "With House leaders closer to a health-care deal than Senate leaders, Mr. Reid's success or failure corralling votes when Congress reconvenes next month will be crucial to the effort to overhaul the country's health-care system" (Bendavid, 8/19).
Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, in a second Roll Call story: "Democrats 'are like a bunch of duck hunters,' Armey said in an interview Tuesday. 'They can't fulfill their desires to take over the health care system, they're not going to sit there and relax, they are going to turn their attention to something else'" (Murray, 8/18). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.