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Finance Wraps Up Markup, Awaits CBO Score

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) early Friday morning completed the markup of his comprehensive health care reform package, with the amended legislation now in the hands of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to come up with a revised cost estimate.After working through hundreds of amendments to Baucus’ original $900 billion health care bill over the past two weeks, the Finance Committee is expected to review preliminary CBO scoring to the modified legislation next week. Finance members could vote as early as Tuesday on the final product, sending it to the full Senate.The markup completion comes after more than a year of work on the bill, including several months of bipartisan negotiations within the committee that ultimately proved unsuccessful. When the marked up bill comes up for vote next week, it is expected to pass along party lines. Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) is seen as the only Republican who may align with the Democrats and vote in favor.“Tonight, we can all be proud,— Baucus said in a prepared statement issued early Friday morning. “We are offering a fiscally responsible bill that takes good ideas from both sides of the aisle.—The next phase of moving toward a floor vote on health care reform in the Senate involves merging the Finance bill with a more liberal bill previously passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and top White House officials are set to direct that merger along with Baucus and Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), the No. 2 Democrat on HELP. Dodd led the markup of the HELP health care reform bill, although the committee’s new chairman, who took over last month, is Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

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