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Reid Hopeful Finance Panel Will Get a Bill This Week

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday he remains “hopeful— that the Senate Finance Committee will finalize a health care reform bill this week, and he held out the specter of a possible Saturday markup session.

“We must keep our eye on the prize,— Reid told reporters. “The prize is health care reform.—

Reid said Democrats were “closer than ever to getting it done.—

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was more reserved in his predictions, saying he feels he is making good progress in bipartisan talks with three committee Republicans.

Baucus did note that he has told negotiators that they will continue to have marathon meeting sessions this week until they get a deal. Baucus canceled a planned meeting of committee Democrats on Tuesday afternoon in order to extend the bipartisan talks, which he said would likely last into the evening.

Reid also said President Barack Obama’s beefed up presence in the debate was helping Congress get a bill over the finish line.

Calling Obama “the quarterback,— Reid said, “It’s so important that the person calling the plays continues letting the American people how important this is.—

Reid also lauded the number of meetings Obama has been having with lawmakers in recent weeks to talk health care reform. Reid said a group of Democrats had already been to the White House on Tuesday, and more Member meetings with the president are expected on Wednesday.

Reid said the White House is so involved in the process that he fielded two calls from Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel during the Democrats’ hour-and-a-half-long lunch Tuesday.

“I would like to say his language is getting better, but it’s getting worse,— Reid said of Emanuel’s notorious use of explicit language.

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