All the news coverage these last few days has focused on the developments in the Senate Finance Committee. And for good reason! That's where all the news is. But that may obscure the fact that there's another health care bill that's been voted out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and a final package emerging in the House of Representatives, and each of these will help shape the bill President Obama hopes to sign.
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Before August recess, each of the three House committees with jurisdiction over health care reform approved different versions of the same so-called "tri-committee bill". Over the break, the chairmen of those committees, working with leadership and the Democratic caucus, made progress on stitching those bills together into a package that will be voted on by the entire chamber. That work continues, and yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will pass a bill "when we're ready," but that she's not waiting for the Senate to move ahead first.
Things haven't matured quite that much in the Senate. The Finance Committee will hold hearings on its bill next week, and the current thinking is that the legislation will likely pass with only Democrats (or Democrats plus Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine). When that's done, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid--working with Finance Chair Max Baucus, HELP Comittee leaders, and the White House--will take the lead merging the two bills into a final product that he thinks can overcome a filibuster, and then pass with at least 51 votes. This will mostly happen behind closed doors.