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Enzi Rejects Sept. 15 Deadline for Health Care Deal

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), a member of the bipartisan group of Senate Finance Committee health care negotiators, on Monday rejected the panel’s new Sept. 15 deadline for reaching an agreement on a bill.

Democratic sources said Friday that Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and his group of six bipartisan negotiators had decided to set a Sept. 15 deadline for reaching a consensus. But in a statement Monday, Enzi said he hadn’t signed off on the new date nor did he support “an artificial deadline.—

“I have not and will not agree to an artificial deadline because I am committed to getting health care reform right, not finishing a bill by some arbitrary date. Improving access to quality, affordable health care for American families is too important to do hastily. Additionally, since many of the policies under discussion will not take effect for a number of years, we should focus on the goal of meaningful reform and not rush to meet timelines,— Enzi said.

“We’re making progress, but we still have several significant, outstanding items to work on,— Enzi added. “I won’t be moved by partisan threats to misuse the budget reconciliation process. I am committed to getting health care reform right.—

Enzi’s statement also suggested that the Wyoming Republican didn’t believe a new deadline had actually been agreed to. The lead-in to the press release that carried the Senator’s statement said that “negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee have not set a mid-September deadline for bipartisan health care reform talks, and he reiterated that getting health care legislation right is more important than getting it done quickly.—

The group of six negotiators is currently meeting in Baucus’ personal office as Members continue to work on health care reform legislation.