The only health care reform strategy that Senate Democrats could agree on Friday was that they all need to take a time out but they werent necessarily singing the same tune when it came to how long that break should be.
While key health care negotiator Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) suggested a month to six weeks, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said leaders would likely begin to make decisions on how to salvage health care next week.
By next week, I think we can come up with a preferred path, Durbin said.
Dodd told reporters earlier that a longer break may be necessary, saying, It isnt as if youll have nothing to do around here. ... Theres a lot of other issues that could fill up the time of the Congress while we sat down and see if there wasnt some way to resolve these differences and come up with a health care bill.
The clearest sign that health care was moving to the back burner, however, was the fact that the Senators made the comments after a leadership meeting to discuss a job creation bill.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) expressed uncertainty about the health care package but said the Senate could work on two tracks at once.
I dont know when were going to do health care, Baucus said. I think health care is extremely important, and we will find a way to do health care. Well also be getting a jobs package. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, and were going to do that.
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