Grassley, Frustrated with WH, Says Baucus Bill Not Bipartisan

By Britt

Sep 17, 2009 3:00pm

ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said today that while Chairman Max Baucus' has bipartisan elements in it, it is not a bipartisan bill. "This bill, except for five or six or seven or eight or nine or 10 — I don't know how many — things that weren't resolved has been put together with some Republican input. But to say that this is a bipartisan bill would be as intellectually dishonest as the Secretary of HHS saying on television recently that because Republicans had 86 amendments put on the HELP bill that it was a bipartisan bill." Grassley was clearly frustrated with the White House and Senate Democrats for wanting Baucus, D-Mont., to move forward with the bill without full buy-in from Republicans. "We're kind of pre-empted from doing it right by being pushed or shoved aside by the leadership and by the White House because they want to move on," Grassley said. "Particularly in light of the fact that so much of this bill doesn't go into effect until 2013. So what's another two or three weeks, if it could be done in another two or three weeks and end up with a bill that could have broad bipartisan support. " And he said the White House caused strains in the negotiations this summer by saying Grassley, R-Iowa, was not negotiating in good faith. "We've had 31 meetings of these group of six. We've had nine walk-throughs. I've had 156 meetings in my office dealing with health care, either with constituents or with other members. . . . And then to be accused of being political in the month of August when [I] didn't say anything different in Iowa than what I've been saying in Washington. That's not a very good environment to carry on a conversation," he said. Grassley danced around the fundraising letter his campaign sent to supporters in August that said he was working to defeat "Obamacare." Today, Grassley said "Obamacare" was meant in that letter to represent the "public option." Several Democrats expressed optimism about the Baucus Bill. Said Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.: "It looked good." Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., praised it as a measure that would bring "a lot of very positive transformation in the way we deliver health care." "Are there some pieces in it that I disagree with? Yes. And we're going to try to work on those," Kerry said. "I think that people ought to feel positive about what's going on here. We're going to get a bill done, one way or the other. We will make changes in it." Kerry said one of his amendments would change the formula by which insurance companies are taxed for offering the high-cost insurance plans that many believe drive up the cost of care. Many such plans are used by union members and Kerry said its important not ton pin health reform on "the workin' guy." Other amendments, he said, would tackle the affordability of insurance for the middle class. Others said it needed more work. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said, "I think it needs more than just a few tweaks."

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