Grassley, Enzi Say Progress Continues on Health Deal
Two of the three Republican Senate health care negotiators on Tuesday insisted that progress is being made on a deal, but they aren’t making any promises about supporting a final product.
GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) said in separate interviews Tuesday that the bipartisan talks among a group of six Finance panel members remain fruitful. However, the duo declined to predict whether the group would ultimately reach an agreement on health care reform.
“We are trying to come up with something that will be bipartisan. But, you know, the rule of the [meetings] is, nothing’s final until it’s all final,— Grassley said. “We’ve been at the table for a long time, and we’re in a process where we’re trying to get something that will work.—
Grassley, the ranking member on Finance, acknowledged that the negotiators have come to an agreement on 95 percent of the issues but remain at odds on the rest.
Enzi said it is “too early to tell— if he’ll be able to support the final bill out of Finance. Enzi on Monday questioned FInance Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) new mid-September deadline for a deal.
On Tuesday, Enzi said he believes the Senate can enact a health care reform bill by year’s end.
Enzi said “lots of items— remain outstanding.
The six Finance negotiators are set to reconvene at 4:30 p.m. in Baucus’ personal office, following a scheduled Democrats-only meeting of the Finance Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building at 3:30 p.m.
Baucus said following a meeting of the Democratic Conference at the White House earlier in the day that President Barack Obama and Democratic Senators would prefer that health care reform pass with bipartisan support. But, Baucus said, both the president and Senate Democrats are prepared to go it alone if necessary.
“That’s [Obama’s] preference, that it be a bipartisan bill. That’s his preference, that’s my preference,— Baucus told reporters, after returning to Capitol Hill.
But Republican Senate leaders, speaking after their weekly Conference policy lunch, questioned the Democrats’ commitment to a bipartisan measure.
“I think right now, what we can safely say, is the only thing bipartisan about the bills we’ve seen is the opposition to them,— said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).