Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) predicted last week that Congress would fail to approve a health care reform bill this year, according to the Lakeland Times.
The newspaper said Feingolds prediction received a burst of applause from a town hall audience of about 150, even though the Senator himself conceded that he was less than thrilled. The town hall event was held in Mercer, Wis., in the left-leaning 7th district represented by Rep. David Obey (D).
Nobody is going to bring a bill before Christmas, and maybe not even then if this ever happens, Feingold said. The divisions are so deep. [Ive] never seen anything like that.
Were heading in the direction of doing absolutely nothing, and I think thats unfortunate, Feingold, who is up for re-election in 2010, said later during the town hall meeting.
Feingold is a member of the Senate Democratic Conference whip team.
The Times quoted Feingold as saying he would not decide whether to support or oppose a final health care bill without first seeking out the opinion of his constituents.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress to get him a bill by Oct. 15, and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are expected to move swiftly after the August recess in an attempt to comply.
In the Senate, the process calls for merging legislation passed out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee with a forthcoming bill from the Finance Committee.
Finance has yet to pass a bill, with three Democrats and three Republicans in that committee still trying to reach a deal on consensus legislation.