Finance committee vote on Baucus bill scheduled for Tuesday

The Senate Finance Committee will vote Tuesday morning on an $829 billion healthcare reform bill, giving Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) extra time to shore up wavering votes.
 

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced the schedule during a floor speech Thursday in which he praised Baucus’s bill for reducing the budget by $81 billion over 10 years.
 
“Yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the Finance Committee [bill], which is one of five plans before Congress to restore the way that health insurance companies treat people in this country, will reduce the deficit,” Reid said. “It said in black and white that the Finance Committee bill will reduce our deficit, not just in the short term, but over the long term.”
 
The legislation would also reduce the nation’s uninsured population by 29 million people.
 
Democrats view the score released Wednesday afternoon by the CBO as a major boost to Baucus’s bill. The nonpartisan analysis confirms that the package will fulfill President Barack Obama’s long-stated goal of reducing federal healthcare spending.
 
Baucus said Wednesday that he would schedule a committee vote on the legislation after reviewing the CBO analysis and consulting with fellow committee members.
 
Baucus will use the next few days to secure the votes of several colleagues on Finance who have voiced concerns about the bill. At the top of that list are Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), and Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine).
 
Snowe told reporters this week that she wanted to have sufficient time to review the CBO report before voting.
 
Baucus must also pay attention to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) who represents a conservative state that turned in a strong vote against Obama during the 2008 presidential election. Lincoln faces a challenging reelection next year, when her vote on healthcare is expected to become a major campaign issue.