Baucus to Unveil Bill This Afternoon

Posted September 16, 2009 at 8:38am

Updated: 10:28 a.m.Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will formally unveil his comprehensive health care reform bill at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, a move that comes after months of bipartisan negotiations that failed to produce a consensus on an overhaul.Baucus’ $856 billion package is set to include several ideas generated and — at least in theory — jointly supported by all six members of a bipartisan, gang of six Finance negotiators. But so far, the three Republicans in the group aren’t signing on. Later this week, Baucus is scheduled to present his bill to the full Finance Committee, with the full Democratic and Republican conferences set to meet separately to discuss their strategy for next week’s legislative markup, to begin on Sept. 22.In fact, the Republican Finance members outside of the gang of six — most of whom have indicated their opposition to Baucus’ bill even before it was released — have already been in discussions to determine how to approach the markup. Some Finance Democrats have also expressed opposition, with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the panel’s Subcommittee on Health Care, announcing Tuesday that he would vote against the bill in its current form.The Finance gang of six adjourned Tuesday evening without reaching an agreement on Baucus’ bill. However, participants on both sides of the aisle have pledged to keep talking, hoping to be able to make changes to the legislation before the Finance panel votes on it.The gang of six includes Baucus, Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) and GOP Sens. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).The process in the Senate calls for Baucus’ bill to be merged with a more liberal bill previously passed out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The combined measure would then be sent to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he wants to bring the bill to the floor the week of Sept. 28.