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Baucus: Reconciliation ‘Off the Table’

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Wednesday said reconciliation is “off the table— for Democrats as they look to overcome GOP-led filibusters and pass a health care reform package this year.Baucus, speaking to reporters on his way into a closed-door Democratic strategy session on health care reform, expressed frustration at the slow pace of the first few days of debate on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) $848 billion package. But he ruled out using reconciliation to pass the bill. The budgetary tactic would enable Democrats to pass some form of the legislation with just 51 votes, rather than 60.“No way, that’s off the table,— Baucus said when asked if Democrats would turn to reconciliation.Baucus said Democrats are reaching out to Republicans to cut a deal on an approach to the amendment process, but he said the GOP has not been receptive. However, Baucus said he still expects Democrats to be able to approve a bill by Christmas — a view that is not necessarily shared by everyone in the majority Conference.“They’re slow-walking, so we’re going to have to see what we can do about that,— Baucus said.

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