Top Republican on Finance hits back at Reid over healthcare law criticism

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the outgoing ranking member of the Finance Committee, hit back Wednesday night against Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) weekend criticism of the panel’s work on the healthcare reform law.

According to a Sunday New York Times article, Reid said he wasn't partisan enough when the legislation was crafted, and he allowed negotiations between Grassley and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to go on for too long.

ADVERTISEMENT
“We spent far too much time piddling around in the Finance Committee,” Reid said. “That was handled very poorly.”

Grassley shot back with a lengthy statement Wednesday night defending the committee’s work on the bill.

“The bipartisan committee negotiations involving Chairman Baucus and me ended up not having any chance to produce a bipartisan agreement because the Democratic leaders and the White House pulled the rug out from under the negotiations," it said.

"Meanwhile, the [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee] bill and House bills were partisan products rushed through on a partisan timetable. Despite pressure from the Democrats, Chairman Baucus scheduled a committee mark-up and allowed a legitimate committee debate with amendments from both sides. Ironically, the bill signed into law most closely reflects the Finance Committee product, despite Sen. Reid’s view that the Finance Committee deliberation was a waste of time."

Grassley went on: "From an accountability standpoint, it’s puzzling that you wouldn’t want one of the key committees of jurisdiction to develop and vet a huge piece of legislation that affects just about every person’s health care and one-sixth of America’s economy. 

"When you rush through a partisan bill, you deprive the public of a chance to learn about the proposals or for legislators to hear from people with expertise who could improve the legislation. Disregarding the process weakens the legislative product. More reliance on the process might have prevented some of the special deals and partisan overreach that are now causing public concern as people learn what’s in the law.”