Baucus Vows To Have Health Overhaul Bill To President’s Desk By State Of The Union
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., vowed Tuesday to have a healthcare overhaul bill to President Barack Obama by his State of the Union address in January, The Hill reports.
"Senate Democratic leaders plan to cut their holiday recess short and begin talks with their House counterparts immediately after Christmas in the hope of producing a final bill by mid-January. The Senate healthcare bill is expected to pass on Christmas Eve, having already won 60 Democratic votes on several procedural votes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has already alerted the conferees to the Senate-House negotiations of their role. But Reid in a Tuesday press conference declined to discuss his behind-the-scenes preparations for the final talks.
"The State of the Union typically takes place on the third Tuesday of January, which would be Jan. 19. But it's unclear whether negotiators will be able to smooth out significant disagreements in such a short time" (Bolton, 12/22).
Meeting the deadline set by Baucus "will be tight," CQ Politics reports, and suggests that the State of the Union speech could be later in January. "The House does not reconvene for the second session of the 111th Congress until Jan. 12, and the Senate will not return until Jan. 19 once it completes work this year. That means, in effect, that a deal will have to be struck before Congress is even back in session. The toughest issues to resolve will be the differences between the House and Senate over how to raise the revenues needed to pay for the bill's broad expansion of health insurance coverage, and how to write language ensuring that no federal funds can be used to pay for abortions" (12/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.