Reid Expects to Bring Health Care Bill Up Next Week
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday answered “yes and yes— when asked whether he expects to bring health care reform legislation to the floor next week and whether it is realistic for the Senate to pass a bill by Christmas.President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to deliver a bill to his desk by year’s end. Exactly how the Senate proceeds is still unclear, given the Congressional Budget Office is still reviewing the final Senate bill and Democratic leaders aren’t sure when it will be ready for the Conference to review. The House passed its version of a health care overhaul Saturday night, 220-215.Because of the time-consuming CBO analysis, Reid would not rule out trying to get debate started on the bill before the score is ready, but he said, “I frankly doubt— that debate would have to move forward without the estimate.“We’re waiting to get back numbers from CBO. It should be pretty soon,— he said to reporters.Additionally, Reid said that he expects an acceptable compromise to be reached on the abortion issue, but that he also expects to move forward with a public insurance option, which has divided moderate and liberal Members of the Democratic Conference. “I believe strongly in a public option,— Reid said.“I expect that the bill that will be brought to the floor will ensure that no federal funds are used for abortion and that the rights of providers, health care facilities, like Catholic hospitals, will be protected, so I believe we can work that out, and we will— Reid added.At least one moderate Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), has said he will vote against a motion to proceed on the bill if it does not include language prohibiting the federal funding of abortion that is similar to an amendment passed by the House as a part of its health care package. Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats, has maintained that he would support a filibuster to end debate on a health care bill that includes a public insurance option of any kind. Reid said he spoke to Lieberman earlier Tuesday and is “confident we’ll work something out.—Emily Pierce contributed to this report.