We’re Going to Pass Health Care Reform,’ Baucus Vows
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus confidently predicted Thursday that Congress will still be able to enact health care reform, even as he acknowledged the leadership has yet to determine how.“We’re going to pass health care reform. There are lots of options, and we’re just talking about the pros and cons,— the Montana Democrat said after a nearly hourlong health care strategy meeting of Senate Democratic leaders and relevant committee chairmen.Baucus added that “it might take a day or two— to figure out how to deal with the health care bill.Passage of health care reform in the Senate was dealt a near-death blow Tuesday when Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D). Prior to his election, Democrats had relied on their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority to push a health care bill through the chamber, but Brown’s election leaves them one vote shy of killing a GOP filibuster of the bill.Baucus declined to define whether his reference to passing health care reform this year meant the comprehensive bill that passed the Senate or a smaller, more focused measure.Other participants in the meeting were similarly tight-lipped about what leadership is considering. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who pushed the health care bill through the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the absence of then-Chairman Kennedy, exited saying: “I just talked to the Leader. They’re working on some stuff.” He explained that the proposed solutions for salvaging the bill included “all the various stuff you’ve heard.”Indeed, Senate leaders and the White House have been hoping to persuade the House to take up and approve the Senate-passed health care bill so that it can become law. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she does not have the votes to do so.Senate aides said Senate leaders are aware that they may have to promise to pass a package of “fixes— to the Senate bill in order to secure House passage of the measure.