Finance’s Marathon Markup Complete As Senators Look Forward To Panel Vote And Floor Action
Senators finished amending the Senate Finance Committee's health reform draft early Friday morning. The next stop after the panel's final vote early next week is the Senate floor.
The New York Times: "At 2:15 a.m., the committee completed work on the last of dozens of amendments to the bill, written by the panel's chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana. The committee plans to take a final vote on the legislation next week, after getting a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. Democratic leaders hope the full Senate will begin debate on the legislation - President Obama's top domestic priority - later this month" (Pear and Calmes, 10/2).
The Washington Post reports that Republicans are unhappy with the tax treatment the bill gives: "The health legislation 'is riddled with tax increases that would affect Americans making far less than this amount,' Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said Thursday. 'You can't do what you want to do without increasing taxes on everybody. But that isn't what the president said we're going to do'" (Montgomery and Murray, 10/2).
The Washington Post in a second story reports that senators are getting ready for the floor debate: "As the panel completed the measure that is expected to form the backbone of health-insurance reform legislation, a political consensus large enough to carry the plan to final passage appeared to emerge." But "(t)he battle lines for the remainder of the debate were clearly drawn during the committee's deliberations and centered on how the bill would affect the middle class" (Murray and Montgomery, 10/2).
The Associated Press: "Obama hailed the developments in the Senate Finance Committee as a milestone, and said in a written statement, 'we are now closer than ever before to finally passing reform that will offer security to those who have coverage and affordable insurance to those who don't'" (Espo, 10/2).
The Boston Globe: With the Finance panel's bill on the cusp of being complete, it will now have to be merged with health bill approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "The coming days will feature intense closed-door wrangling among Senate Democrats as they struggle to work out key differences between the two versions," The Globe reports (Wangsness, 10/2).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the meantime has started merging the Senate Finance bill with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions bill that was passed out of that committee long ago, CongressDaily reports. "Although the Finance panel will likely pass the bill early next week, leadership and Finance aides said Thursday that talks on combining the bills were already under way because committee voting on amendments was nearly done. That makes the content of the bill effectively determined, though CBO must score it. Dodd has said he has Reid's assurance that the HELP proposal will be considered on equal footing with the Finance plan, which is widely viewed as more appealing to Democratic moderates and potentially to a few Republicans because of its lower cost and lack of a public insurance option" (Friedman, 10/2).
The Washington Times: Reid "has to determine whether the bill that goes to the Senate floor, which could happen as early as Oct. 12, contains the government health insurance plan, called the public option, and requires employers to offer insurance coverage. The Health Committee bill contains both. The Finance Committee plan has neither" (Haberkorn, 10/2).