Senate Health Debate Begins, Reid Warns Of Weekend Work
The Associated Press: "The Senate opened debate Monday on landmark health care legislation that would extend coverage to millions of uninsured and ban onerous insurance practices, with Democrats vowing to work weekends to deliver on President Barack Obama's domestic initiative by year's end. 'There's not an issue more important than finishing this legislation,' Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told his colleagues in putting them on notice for Saturday and Sunday sessions in December."
"Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the $979 billion, 10-year Senate bill is too expensive for a nation struggling financially. 'The notion that we would even consider spending trillions of dollars we don't have in a way that the majority of Americans don't even want is proof that this health care bill is out of touch,' McConnell said" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/30).
Roll Call: "Reid, who faces a potentially difficult re-election next year, noted that he will have to postpone and even cancel events back in his home state to work on the health care bill, and he warned that his colleagues will likely have to do the same" (Brady, 11/30).
CongressDaily: "'We're just trying to work through as many amendments as we can this week,' a Democratic leadership aide said." CongressDaily reports that both sides are offering one amendment today. The GOP one "would strip $400 billion in planned Medicare savings from the bill, which Republicans say amount to cuts, according to Republican aides." The Democrats' amendment will deal with women's health.
"Democratic leaders have threatened to shorten the Senate's holiday break if the bill is not passed in time, although they have not specified what the shortened schedule would look like" (Friedman and House, 11/30).
Politico reports that "White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to visit" Reid later today. "The continuation of these backroom negotiations on the public option and other issues are the flip side of the very public Senate floor" (Budoff Brown, 11/30).