Endgame on health

Senate Finance Committee leaders are working on the only bipartisan healthcare reform bill in town.

That concerns some liberal Democrats. It also disquiets conservative Republicans, whose main goal is to kill healthcare reform.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) has given Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusSteady American leadership is key to success with China and Korea Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate Canada crossing fine line between fair and unfair trade MORE (D-Mont.) a lot of leeway to craft a bipartisan bill. Some House Democrats believe Reid needs to cut Baucus off.

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Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), assistant to the Speaker and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Monday that Senate leaders may have to pull the plug on bipartisan negotiations.

“What concerns me about what’s happened in the Senate Finance Committee is that they’ve had a whole lot of time to work these things out, and just don’t seem to be able to break the impasse,” Van Hollen said in an interview on the liberal “Bill Press Radio Show.” “It doesn’t seem to be as much about a disagreement over policy issues, and it seems more to be just the lack of the political will on behalf of some to get it done.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a liberal member of the Congressional Black Caucus, expressed frustration on Tuesday with Blue Dogs Democrats. In an interview with MSNBC, she said she and many other Democrats will not support any bill that does not have a public option.

Baucus and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Five hurdles to a big DACA and border deal Grand jury indicts Maryland executive in Uranium One deal: report MORE (R-Iowa) must be enjoying the fact that House Democrats are struggling to pass a bill. If and when Baucus and Grassley reach a deal, they will be able to claim that their bill is employer-friendly, costs less than $1 trillion and is fully paid for without raising taxes on individuals.

Lobbying groups representing the health insurers and drug companies may endorse the Baucus/Grassley bill, knowing it is the best legislation they can get from the Democratic-controlled Congress.

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Regardless of what deal is struck between the Blue Dogs and House Democratic leaders, the bill that emerges from the House will be very different from the Senate Finance Committee’s measure.

There have been many instances where vastly different bills were ironed out in conference, but there also have been many times when the ends could not be made to meet, such as on immigration reform during the last administration.

The Senate and House are on very different tracks and at some point, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ Democrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration Trump’s first year in office was the year of the woman MORE will need to pick which healthcare approach is better, or at least has the better chance of getting to his desk. Choosing won’t necessarily mean he gets what he wants, but if he doesn’t choose, he might get nothing.