Sen. Enzi: No deadline for healthcare talks

One of the three Republican senators working on a bipartisan agreement on healthcare reform legislation flatly denied Monday the Democratic claims that negotiators had set a mid-September deadline to complete their work.

Sen. Mike EnziMike EnziDem senator: DeVos ‘sends shivers down the spine’ Trump Education pick: States should decide on allowing guns in schools Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Wyo.), one of six senators on the Finance Committee working on the bill and also the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, pushed back hard at assertions by Senate Democrats that the bipartisan group has vowed to complete its work by Sept. 15.

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“I have not and will not agree to an artificial deadline because I am committed to getting healthcare reform right, not finishing a bill by some arbitrary date," Enzi said in a statement issued just minutes into a meeting on the bill in the offices of Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation MORE (D-Mont.).

"Improving access to quality, affordable healthcare for American families is too important to do hastily. Additionally, since many of the policies under discussion will not take effect for a number of years, we should focus on the goal of meaningful reform and not rush to meet timelines,” Enzi said.

Enzi's statement portends additional delays for a bill that President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaConway contradicts White House statement on crowd size in tweet Egypt's leader, Trump speak A closer look at McCain's proposed defense budget MORE originally wanted passed by the Senate this Friday. Though the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee marked up its portion of the bill weeks ago, the Finance Committee deliberations threaten to drag into the autumn.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) told reporters Monday that "we're certainly going to try" to come to agreement by Sept. 15, but, minutes later, rejected the notion of a deadline. "I think we should disregard timetables," Snowe said.

The three Republicans in the group — Enzi, Snowe and Finance Committee ranking member Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP senator: Trump budget chief could face confirmation 'problems' Jeff Sessions will protect life Justice, FBI to be investigated over Clinton probes MORE (Iowa) — have been intensely opposed to placing any time limitations on the negotiating process. Senate Republican leaders have also pressured the senators not to agree to anything too quickly, nor without consulting their GOP colleagues.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerGingrich: Schumer position on Supreme Court 'indefensible' Top Dem comes out against Tillerson ahead of key vote Democrats and the boycott of Trump's inauguration MORE (D-N.Y.), a Finance Committee member who is not part of Baucus's "gang of six," said earlier Monday that Baucus and Grassley agreed last week they needed more time and that Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidFranken emerges as liberal force in hearings GOP eyes new push to break up California court The DC bubble is strangling the DNC MORE (D-Nev.) gave his blessing to the Sept. 15 deadline.

“We want these negotiations to work, so when both Baucus and Grassley said they needed more time, Leader Reid said he understood,” Schumer said on a a conference call with reporters.

Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) are also participants in the bipartisan sessions, which will continue throughout the week.