Earlier today, I suggested that Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus had, to a great extent, left the fate of health care reform in the hands of a couple very conservative Republicans. Others have noticed, too. According to Roll Call, “One Senate source said [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid told Baucus earlier this week that if the Finance group could not produce an agreement by the end of next week that the Majority Leader’s office would likely end up taking over the negotiations.”
This has apparently ground negotiations to a halt, at least for today. Soon, though, Baucus and Reid will have to make a decision: humor the Republicans and delay completion of a committee bill until September, or scrap the consensus language and advance a partisan bill.
Unless, of course, Republicans suddenly decide they have no interest in slowing down health care negotiations. Cough. “[Y]es we’re being rushed,” said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), a key conservative negotiator. “It’s possible to get it right. It just can’t be done by next weekend.”