Reid Still Plans to Bring Health Care Bill to Floor This Month

Posted September 15, 2009 at 3:53pm

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday he still hopes to have a health care reform bill on the floor of the Senate by Sept. 28.Reid acknowledged there is a lot of work to do to get a bill ready for a full Senate debate between now and then, but he said it is “certainly possible— to take it up by the end of the month.Speaking to reporters, Reid said Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ plan to introduce his health care reform bill on Wednesday would help shift the debate from the small conference room where the Montana Democrat has been holding bipartisan talks with three Republicans and two other Democrats to the entire Democratic Conference.“We now are going to have the full caucus more heavily involved,— Reid said. “As you know, there’s been mainly three Democratic Senators involved in the Finance Committee package. … This Thursday, we’re going to have another special caucus to talk about the Finance Committee package. Once that’s done, then the markup process starts with the committee that next Monday or Tuesday.—Reid noted that once the Finance panel has finished its work, he will begin working with the White House to merge that package with a more liberal bill approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.“We’ll either do a health care bill on a bipartisan bill or, I hope we don’t have to do this, but if we can’t get the 60 votes we need, then we’ll have no alternative but to do reconciliation,— Reid said, referencing budget reconciliation rules that would allow him to pass a bill with only a simple majority. “I strongly favor a bipartisan approach.—Senate Democrats heard from White House senior adviser David Axelrod, who told them Tuesday that the polling shows that there are considerable political perils if they fail to pass a health care reform measure this year.Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who became the first Senate liberal to oppose Baucus’ more moderate plan, said he was not satisfied with Axelrod’s pitch.“So the new benchmark is, well, if we can do something, if we can do anything, then we can say we did health care reform,— Rockefeller said.He added, “Is something like that enough?—