Senate Finance Committee Could Vote Within Days, Still Looking For White House Guidance
The Senate Finance Committee could vote within days on the proposed health care reform bill, but members are still seeking to influence how the measure will be merged with version approved by the Senate Health Committee.
Roll Call reports that as the Finance Committee's approval of that panel's bill is almost a certainty, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been working two combine the two measures. "The deal-making is set to occur behind closed doors in Reid's Capitol office, and Republicans hope to use that fact to their political gain. GOP leaders have not been invited to participate in the discussions, although some Republicans, such as moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), may be consulted." Reid hopes to have the merger done by Oct. 17 with his eyes on the Senate floor debate a few days later (Drucker and Pierce, 10/8).
Democrats in the meantime are facing a dilemma on which direction to take tax cuts or hikes in the bill to pay for the proposals, The Los Angeles Times reports. "Legislation emerging from the House would slap a surtax on upper-income people. But many Democrats, especially in the Senate, fear the political fallout over voting to raise anyone's income taxes." Among the bandied-about proposals include an income tax surcharge on the rich in the House or taxing "Cadillac" plans in the Senate (Hook, 10/8).
Finally, The Wall Street Journal has a video on Democrats still seeking Obama's guidance on how best to proceed: "A lot of Democrats feel that the president laid out very difficult parameters for them to meet and then walked away. Now they want him back. And they want him back telling them very specifically how they are supposed to square the circle and make the compromises that need to be made." Ideas include scaling back a mandate to cover the uninsured as well as the subsidies for low- and middle-income people (Weisman, 10/7).