Senate Debate Moving Slowly, Reid Could Extend Session
As debate over health care reform legislation continues in the Senate, Democrats are accusing Republicans of delaying votes and strategizing over how the schedule could unfold in the coming weeks.
Politico's Live Pulse: "Accusing Republicans of stalling tactics, Democrats emerged from a caucus meeting vowing to complete the bill by the end of the year. ... The Senate has yet to cast any votes on amendments because Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on the terms of those votes" (Brown, 12/2).
The Hill: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said, "The Republican leadership is stalling us, so we have decided we are going right through Christmas." Senate HELP Committee Chairman "Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) predicted Democrats would meet their target despite the sluggish floor debate. 'We're going to get this done before the new year comes in. In fact, I think we're going to get it done before Christmas,' Harkin said." Republicans deny charges that their strategy is "to stymie debate on the legislation, though a GOP leadership aide said their aim is to ensure that the healthcare reform bill is on the floor for at least as long as the several weeks Reid spent behind closed doors merging the healthcare bills approved by the Finance and HELP committees" (Young, 12/2).
Roll Call: But if work is not completed before the holiday, "Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is considering bringing lawmakers back to Washington, D.C., the week between Christmas and New Year's Day to wrap up work on a health care reform bill, leadership aides said." Roll Call reports that one senior Democratic aide said "that while 'no decisions have been made' on the end-of-year schedule, Reid is keeping 'on the table' the possibility of keeping the chamber in session the week of Dec. 28" (Stanton, 12/2).
Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), also on Wednesday, told reporters that Republicans will follow up on his pending Medicare amendment by trying to remove new taxes from the health bill, according to The Hill's Blog Briefing Room. "'It seems to me there's a lot of spirited debate going on,' McCain said in reference to the floor debate Wednesday over his amendment, which would refer the health bill back to the Senate Finance Committee with instructions to restore cuts to Medicare. ... But once his amendment receives a vote, McCain said Republicans are looking next to offer amendments addressing the variety of taxes contained within the Senate bill." He said taxes will be "one of the major issues" for Republicans "really soon" (O'Brien, 12/2).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.