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Grassley Suggests Health-Care Debate Will Last Until Mid-November

By Shailagh Murray
Members of the Senate Finance Committee launched a final week of health-care legislation negotiations Monday afternoon, even as they searched for a glimmer of optimism that an end is in sight.

The leading Republican on the committee, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), was quoted by Radio Iowa on Monday predicting that Congress could send a health-care bill to President Obama by Thanksgiving.

"If we get a bill on the Senate floor by the third or fourth week of September, it's probably going to take two weeks. Probably take a month to negotiate the difference between the House and Senate provisions, so I would suggest the middle of November," Grassley said.

In the meantime, much unfinished business remains. The Finance Committee's agenda Monday included determining whether health-insurance coverage, including a major Medicaid expansion, would extend to illegal immigrants. "We want to make sure they don't get it," Grassley told the Burlington, Iowa, radio station KBUR in a separate interview.

The House bill is headed to the floor after Labor Day. Across Capitol Hill, the Senate health committee approved its legislation weeks ago, while the finance committee's deadline for passing its bill has slipped to Sept. 15.

"We're entering the home stretch in the health-care reform effort," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on a conference call.

But if Finance Committee talks fail to produce a bipartisan bill, Schumer added, Democrats are prepared to resort to Plan B.

"No matter what happens, we're going to enact health-care reform by the end of the year," said Schumer. "And we hope it can be struck in a compromise with our Republican colleagues by September 15th. But if the Republicans are not able to produce an agreement, we will have contingencies in place," including invoking a special budget rule known as reconciliation that would limit the scope of the bill but prevent a GOP filibuster.

The finance panel's fragile consensus threatened to fall apart last week, when Baucus pressed for a deal by this Friday, the start of the Senate's August recess, and his GOP partners resisted. "We were just not ready for it, and we were able to talk him out of it," Grassley told KBUR.

But Grassley and fellow Republican negotiator Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) both noted that the Sept. 15 deadline had been set by Baucus, without their approval.

"I have not and will not agree to an artificial deadline because I am committed to getting health-care reform right," Enzi said in a statement. "We're making progress, but we still have several significant outstanding items to work on." And Enzi warned, "I won't be moved by partisan threats" to invoke reconciliation.

In the KBUR interview, Grassley described the political landscape in the Senate: "Thirty out of 40 Republicans right now don't want to do anything. And then you've got 30 to 40 Democrats who want a Canadian-style plan ... so we're trying to find something in the middle."

He urged his colleagues to use the August recess "to reflect on what we're doing. And there ought to be a lot of reflection. We're restructuring and redirecting one-sixth of the economy when you do something to health care, and it needs to be done cautiously."

By Shailagh Murray  |  August 3, 2009; 4:43 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform , Senate  
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Insurers and wingnuts will try
To poke health reform in the eye
They're prone to resisting
For their pre-existing
Condition's to claim, 'We deny.'

News Short n' Sweet by JFD8

Posted by: jd121 | August 3, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"No matter what happens, we're going to enact a healthcare reform by the end of the year", said Sen.Charles E.Schumer.
Schumer is "guaranteeing" healthcare reform? Sounds like the American taxpayer is the "peon" and Schumer, being a "Senator", is incharge of America's health and happiness.
If Sen. Schumer can guarantee this reform, he must know what the "total cost" is to the American taxpayer. Or, is he just going to throw a number out, that is a figment of someone's imagination? Wasn't he the one that said Americans don't really care about where their tax dollars are spent, or something to that effect?
Is all this Constitutional? Just asking?

Posted by: Logic3 | August 3, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

To "force" the American taxpayer to pay for abortions is not only unconscionable, but Unconstitutional.
Any "Bill" that forces, by the government to get healthcare insurance, paid for by American tax dollars, which will include services: such as abortion, that are against its' own citizen's religion or conscience is denying individual freedom.
"Life", "Liberty", "Property" and Happiness.

Posted by: Logic3 | August 4, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

My dad had a vulgar but pointed saying that would be appropriate to Baucus, Grassley, the Finance Committee and all those legislators who are saying 'We DO want reform, but we want to go slow and get it right.' It goes: 'SH#T or get off the pot.'
Everyone should be aware of the uniform GOP strategy (formulated by Frank Luntz): first, say they are FOR reform, but things are going too fast. Then use phrases like 'government takeover' 'government rationing' 'long lines waiting' and 'faceless government bureaucrats coming between you and your doctor'. This is what you hear every time Bahner, McConnell, Graham, et al make a pronouncement on the issue. Luntz didn't suggest throwing in a few specious innuendos regarding 'illegal aliens' and 'tax funded abortions' but even Republicans occasionally improvise.

Republicans are not going to support any health reform bill. It's time to scrap 'bipartisan' and forge ahead.

Posted by: PeggyB1 | August 4, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Check Em Out and Weep
Also google Boston Children's Hospital Sex Change Clinic
Also google Bill Ayers and Obama's Comprehensive Sex Education Bill
Also google Bill Ayers and learn his history
Also google Planned Parenthood

We must fight to change this liberal curriculum in the schools

Posted by: boski66 | August 5, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

The party of NO is the most racist, underserving to be in any office on the face of this earth. For a country that is suppose to be smart, it's showing how dumb you really are, or is it the black man in your white house? The republicans have no plan except to keep getting richer on your backs and keeping you poor, and you don't have sense to see you are being played bad like your hate for blacks you have. The eyes are better pupil's than the ear. Your actions are always clear whether we want to admitt it or not. Anybody that will vote for a republican now have to be crazy or just don't care what happen to this country period. For 8 eight years they were in charge and drove us to point of almost no return and they want us to trust them. Remember that brigade down in Texas I can sell you real cheap too. Health care they say it's fine. Why they have something they wont share with you? Tell you why they know you are stupid and beleive what they say, after all you sent them to washington. How smart are you?

Posted by: emoore20 | August 5, 2009 3:24 AM | Report abuse

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