Reid Eyes First Health Care Reform Vote Before Releasing Bill

Nov 17, 2009 6:33pm

ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met with his caucus today for their weekly planning huddle and emerged “cautiously optimistic” that he can get the 60  votes he will need to bypass the first of several Republican roadblocks and start debate on a health reform bill. When will all this happen? Capitol Hill waits and waits for a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office on how much Reid’s bill will cost.  Beyond his promise that it will include a public option, no one but Reid has any clear idea what will be in the bill. CBO has been working on Reid’s proposal since Oct. 26th. Staffers seem confident that the CBO report and a first look at Reid’s bill could come Wednesday. “Everything is moving along just fine,” Reid said of his bill. “As soon as we get the bill, we'll share it with everyone.” But Reid avoided specifics on his bill and hedged when asked if its cost would remain below President Obama’s goal of $900 billion. “I am going to have a bill that's fiscally responsible,” Reid said. “Of all the bills we've seen, it'll be the best:  saves more money, is more protective of Medicare, is a bill that's good for the American people.    I'm not going to get into the numbers today, but it'll — I think if you're not impressed, you should be.” And how will he get 60 votes for his bill when Democrats disagree on so much – from abortion policy to a public health insurance option? I think that we're together as a caucus,” Reid said. “We're going to come up with a bill that we feel comfortable with and give it to the American people.  And I hope to do it before the end of the year.” Republicans leaders appeared after their weekly huddle armed with the House health reform bill – all 1,900 plus pages – as a prop. “We anticipate, as the majority leader has indicated, something of similar size to be produced sometime this week, presumably with a CBO score, and a vote apparently on Friday to determine whether or not we ought to go to the bill,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, the minority leader. “What I think the public is saying to all of us, "Quit passing 1,000- page bills, concentrate on trying to improve the economy, and why are you trying to pass this health care bill?"  I mean, I run into people every day who say, "Please don't do it."  And that's not just anecdotes.  You've seen the polls.  They're unanimous.  Every poll I've seen, the American people are saying, "Don't pass this health care bill,” McConnell said. “And I am perplexed at the Democrats' intent to ignore public opinion and go forward with this in spite of the fact the public obviously opposes it.” Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz, put the situation in starker terms for Democrats, predicting they will suffer election setbacks if they pursue a health reform bill like the one passed by the House. “It's interesting that independents oppose it by two to one, and independents, of course, are kind of the bellwether that have determined who wins and loses elections over the last several elections; went strongly for President Obama when he won; switched in the Virginia and New Jersey races; and are strongly, by two to one, opposed to this kind of health care legislation,” Kyl said.

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