Taking Their Time: Finance Committee May Delay Vote As It Awaits CBO Analysis

The Senate Finance Committee was supposed to convene for a vote on its controversial health care bill tomorrow. Now, that’s looking doubtful.

Early in the amendment process, the panel agreed not to hold a vote until a preliminary analysis on the legislation’s cost-saving potential was available, and it appears as if the CBO will not complete its work until later in the week. That would touch off yet another delay–one that’s likely to frustrate Democrats and liberal activists, who’ve grown impatient over the glacial pace of reform efforts.Assuming the panel successfully approves the bill by week’s end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will begin negotiations with Democratic health care leaders to marry it with a more liberal package that was advanced months ago by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee.

Most insiders expect the bill to pass on a heavily partisan basis. Depending on how Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) chooses to vote, Finance chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) will be able to lose one or two Democrats, but no more. Several Democrats, but most notably Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)–frustrated by the right-leaning nature of the bill, and upset about being shut out of the months-long negotiations process–have suggested they may not be prepared to support the legislation as is.

It would be a huge surprise, and a major upset for Democratic leaders, if the bill failed to squeak out of committee. We’ll keep you posted on all developments.

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