Baucus: CBO Score Could Come Wednesday

Posted October 6, 2009 at 1:02pm

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Tuesday that he could receive the final Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of his panel’s amended health care reform bill Wednesday, paving the way for a committee vote on the package.Baucus declined to predict how long Finance members might take to review the revised CBO score before voting on the bill, first priced at $900 billion. Finance members are expected to approve package sometime later this week. “They say they’ll give us the score tomorrow,— Baucus said Tuesday.One person waiting on the CBO before she decides how to vote in committee is Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). The moderate Republican said Tuesday that she has not ruled out supporting a Democratic health care bill in committee and opposing it later, or vice versa.“Whatever my vote is in the committee will be my vote for that day,— Snowe told reporters. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be my vote always.—Snowe refused to speculate on her role in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) merger of the Finance bill with a measure passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, but she said her participation in negotiations with Democratic leaders and the White House depends on their flexibility.“The question is whether or not they’re willing to entertain changes that can build broader support,— Snowe said.However, the Finance bill is basically set as it is, for now. Baucus said he does not anticipate having to make any changes to the bill based on the new CBO score. “That’s my expectation,— the Finance chairman said.The Finance Committee completed its markup of Baucus’ health care reform bill Thursday, and the CBO has been working since then to complete its revised score of the new product. The Finance-HELP merger is expected to begin after the Baucus bill is reported out of committee.However, Baucus said preliminary work on the merger has already begun, including some discussions “at the principle level.—