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Durbin: Not Enough Time for a Health Care Vote

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reiterated Thursday morning that the Senate is unlikely to vote on health care reform legislation before adjourning for the August recess.

Durbin said a vote remains possible if the bipartisan negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee conclude soon and the markup moves rapidly. But Durbin, citing the need to merge that panel’s bill with legislation passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — as well as the necessary floor time — was highly skeptical that a vote would occur by Aug. 7.

“It depends on the Finance Committee. I hope that they can move to this quickly,— Durbin told reporters. “But, you know, just consider the process … If the bill is approved by the Finance Committee, goes into a markup and is then given to the Majority Leader to blend with the HELP bill and then bring to the floor, count the days.—

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), emerging Thursday from a closed-door meeting of Finance Democrats, suggested the committee still has a ways to go before a bill is ready for markup. Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is trying to negotiate a bipartisan deal and has been meeting with six Finance members — two other Democrats and three Republicans — to try to reach such an agreement.

“As I’ve said all along, this is a complicated process and we’re moving along piece by piece,— Kerry said.

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