No GOP Support for Baucus Health Care Bill Means Reconciliation Possible

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 16, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

No GOP Support for Baucus Health Care Bill Means Reconciliation Possible

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 16
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Although the new Baucus health care bill could change enough after the Senate Finance Committee votes on amendments to it next week, no Republicans in the Senate have yet expressed their support for the measure. As a result, Senate Democrats are renewing talks about railroading through the legislation.

The initial reading from pro-life groups about the Baucus bill is that it opens the door to abortion funding and, at minimum, amendments are needed to make sure that doesn’t happen.

And with pro-abortion Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine saying she also can’t support the bill in its current form, speculation is rampant again that the reconciliation process will be used.

That is a special budget procedure that prevents the minority party in the Senate from using its right to filibuster legislation. It is supposed to be reserved for economic emergencies, but Democrats may pull it out to railroad the health care bill through the chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a pro-abortion lawmaker from Nevada, said Tuesday that he is prepared to used reconciliation to get a health care bill passed on a party-line vote if necessary.

“We’ve always had a place at the table for Republicans. There’s one there today. We hope it bears fruit,” he said. “If we can’t get the 60 votes we need, then we’ll have no alternative but to use reconciliation.”

Baucus confirmed to The Hill yesterday that his bill, which he introduced today, will not get any initial Republican support but he expects some after the measure is amended next week.

“I think there will be Republican support when the bill is reported out, at the very latest,” he said. “It may be earlier there will be a Republican or two that will announce support.”

But his efforts to attract GOP are turning off liberal Democrats like Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, who plans to vote no as it stands now.

“There is no way in its present form that I will vote for it,” Rockefeller said.

The Finance Committee is expected to begin debating amendments on Tuesday and Baucus will meet with members of the committee on Thursday of this week for a Friday amendment submission deadline.

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