Reid Committed to Health Care Timeline, Has Plan for Forthcoming Bill

Posted July 16, 2009 at 12:47pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) remains committed to finishing a health care bill before the August recess, indicating Thursday that he is not swayed by Democrats and Republicans who have complained to him about his timeline.“Whether we brought this bill up at 12 o’clock tonight or next November or next December, it would be too early,— Reid told reporters Thursday. “There’s no arbitrary deadlines that have been set. We’ve had this schedule for months now, and I think we can meet the schedule that’s been set.—Members in both parties have expressed anxiety that Reid’s accelerated pace for floor action will not give the Senate enough time to properly vet programs that could fundamentally change the way Americans receive health care.Still, Reid added that he could envision a scenario in which the Finance Committee, working furiously to try to craft a bipartisan deal, marks up its version next week.And Reid said he already has a plan for floor consideration.Reid said he plans to use an empty House tax bill as a shell to bring up a health care bill that represents a “composite— of what the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved Wednesday and what the Finance Committee eventually comes up with. He reiterated his intention to secure a filibuster-proof 60 votes for the bill, rather than trying to use tricky budget rules, known as reconciliation, to protect the measure from any GOP-led blockade.Reid also indicated that he would be the final arbiter in what kind of health insurance delivery system would make it to the Senate floor for debate. The HELP panel approved a bill that would create a government-run health insurance plan, while Finance has been trying to craft a bipartisan compromise around a nonprofit health insurance cooperative.