Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday said he is sticking to a mid-September deadline for a deal with panel Republicans on health care legislation, even as GOP lawmakers push back against efforts to restrict discussions.
We need a deadline, Baucus told Roll Call after a meeting between the Senate Democratic Conference and President Barack Obama at the White House. Baucus said the deadline would be around Sept. 15, adding that he hoped Republicans would come around to the idea.
In a statement Monday, Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), a key GOP negotiator in talks between Finance Democrats and Republicans trying to craft a bipartisan deal, said he had not agreed to an artificial deadline and suggested he would not be bound by it.
Democrats have threatened to run the bill as a Democrats-only vehicle under reconciliation if Finance Committee members do not strike a deal by Sept. 15.
After the White House meeting, Baucus and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Mont.) were emphatic that they want Republicans to join them on the health bill.
We dont want to do a partisan bill, Reid told reporters.
Reid predicted the Senate will pass a health care bill in spite of the loud, shrill voices trying to interrupt town hall meetings.
Reid was referring to protests erupting at town hall meetings called by Democrats to discuss health care with constituents.
Reid also said the Senate will move a cash for clunkers bill before recessing for the rest of the summer, adding that Democrats have the votes to pass it.
Lawmakers emerged from the lunch session with Obama, held on his birthday, describing a warm session that included several standing ovations for the president.