Reid: Not Bound by Timelines for Health Care Bill

Posted November 3, 2009 at 2:12pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wouldn’t guarantee Tuesday that a health care bill would pass his chamber before the end of the year, while Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) confirmed that the Congressional Budget Office would not complete its analysis of the overhaul this week.

Reid said Senate Democrats are moving as fast as possible to a bill. But in response to a question from a reporter on whether the Senate would be able to clear a bill by year’s end, Reid demurred. Part of the delay in getting to a floor debate involves the CBO analysis.

“We’re not going to be bound by any timelines. We need to do the best job we can for the American people. We want quality legislation, and we’re going to do that,— Reid said. “We’re going to do this legislation as expeditiously as we can. But we’re going to do it as fairly as we can, also.—

Meanwhile, Baucus said the CBO is not expected to deliver its cost estimate on the Democrats’ proposal this week. Reid will use the CBO’s analysis to piece together the final Senate bill.

The time required for the CBO to analyze the Senate package, as well as upcoming holidays such as Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, are complicating Reid’s goal of delivering health care reform to President Barack Obama by year’s end. The House is hoping to vote on its version of an overhaul late this week or early next week.

“We’re just doing our best to encourage CBO to move as quickly as possible,— Baucus said. “I’m calling CBO daily. … We want them to be professional and do a good job. But we want them to move as quickly as they can.—