Obviously, theres a concern that something might be agreed upon that hasnt been run by the Conference and leadership, said one Republican Senator. Thats why, this Senator said, Republican leaders have cautioned Grassley, Please, dont make any deals without at least talking with the Conference.
However, Republicans have been comforted by the fact that on health care, Baucus and Grassley are not in the room alone, as they have been on previous occasions.
I think having other people there its unlikely that Chuck goes alone on this, said the Republican Senator. The group dynamic its helpful to him and its probably helpful to us, too.
Plus, the senior Senate GOP aide said the enormity of reconfiguring one-sixth of the economy does not appear to be lost on Grassley, who is up for a sixth term next year.
The bottom line is the stakes have never been bigger, the aide said. I think were seeing encouraging signs that [Grassleys] not going to go rogue.
Still, GOP leaders have attempted to sow doubts in Grassleys mind by reminding him repeatedly of his experience with Baucus on the childrens health insurance bill they both championed in 2008. Though the Senate had a veto-proof majority for the measure, the House sustained then-President George W. Bushs rejection of the measure.
Looking to push the same measure again in 2009, Grassley found that Democrats were more interested in passing a different childrens health insurance measure, and he and many other Republicans ended up walking away from the bill that was enacted.
Grassley acknowledged the reminders hes been getting from his leadership as the health care talks proceed but said he knows that the State Childrens Health Insurance Program situation had nothing to do with Baucus commitment to their original agreement.
GOP leaders have made that point, and they made it very clear, Grassley said. But if I thought it was Baucus fault that SCHIP didnt work out, then Id blame him.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.