Baucus/Grassley Relationship Explored, Other Senators Weigh In On Reform
The old reliable relationship between Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) continues to "bedevil" their Senate colleagues as the Finance Committee nears a deal on health care reform, Roll Call reports.
"Senators in both parties have become increasingly anxious about the secretive health care policy meetings the two men have led daily with a group of four other Finance members. But both Baucus and Grassley said they have the utmost confidence in each other as move through a process that has worked so well for them in the past."
After Grassley and fellow Republican on Finance Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming appeared ready to leave the Finance Committee negotiations, it was the alliance with Baucus that brought him back, Roll Call reports (Pierce, 8/6).
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), acting chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told his Finance Committee colleagues to stick to the basics, Politico reports. Dodd "presented 13 examples in plain English of how the Senate health committee would fix the status quo. Those include emphasizing a prohibition on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, tax credits for small businesses, support for prevention and wellness programs, and lower insurance premiums" (Brown, 8/6).
In the meantime, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), told The Washington Times that the negotiations in Finance are continuing too long: He said the bill is getting "'weaker and weaker' as the Senate Finance Committee tries to hammer out a bipartisan deal. 'Everything depends on six people, three Democrats and three Republicans... negotiating out what's going to happen,' Mr. Rockefeller said" (Haberkorn, 8/6).
The Wall Street Journal, however, reports that Enzi said he won't be rushed to judgment on the bill: "The Senate Finance negotiators - who also include (Grassley) and Olympia Snowe of Maine - have missed several deadlines, but Mr. Enzi said he wasn't in a hurry. 'Trying to impose quickness' was likely to rile voters, rather than widen support, he said" (Hitt, 8/6).
Wall Street Journal video: "Senator Enzi is a key figure behind closed doors, but does not talk with reporters, does not talk with the media hordes that follow him around these negotiations," said Reporter Greg Hitt. "So he's not pushing at all for a deadline, in fact, he's resisting it." (Hitt, 8/5)
Grassley on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: "It's pretty hard to quantify, but I think we're all committed to making sure it gets done right. It needs to be done carefully, and cautiously and done right."(Woodruff, 8/5).