Timeline Tightening On Senate Finance Reform Bill
A merged Senate bill between the Finance and HELP committees could hit the Senate floor the week of Oct. 12 and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D- Mont., readies his committee to finish its markup by Thursday or Friday.
Roll Call: After this week, "Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he will huddle for several days with the White House, Baucus, and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) to marry the Finance package with a bill that Dodd shepherded through the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in July. Dodd was filling in for the late Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). The biggest uncertainty involves how fast the Congressional Budget Office can score the budgetary effect of the bill. Reid has yet to make a decision on how to deal with one of the most vexing issues facing his Caucus - whether to bring up a bill with a public insurance option, as most of his Members would prefer, or to explore other alternatives backed by Democratic centrists" (Pierce and Drucker, 9/28).
The politics and public opinions behind the debate, meanwhile, have become increasingly complex.
Politico reports that polling has left politicians in a tizzy. "Legislators hoping to learn what their constituents think about the issue - and how to vote to keep them happy - face a dizzying deluge of hard-to-reconcile data, some of which suggests that voters are more than a little confused." Internet surveys and interest group polls are among the complicating factors (Coller, 9/28).
In a second story, Politico examines the political undercurrents on health care reform throughout America, region by region. "In its report to subscribers, The Cook Political Report argued that the 2010 midterm elections are shaping up to be an election for 'angry white seniors' who are the least supportive of President Barack Obama's domestic agenda and are poised to turn out in large numbers to the polls to express their displeasure next year. Health care has also become a contentious issue for Democrats in rural, conservative-minded states and districts - that are traditionally resistant to change and hesitant to support any Obama-backed initiatives" (Kraushaar, 9/28).