Baucus Says Health Bill Might Go Back to House

Posted March 23, 2010 at 12:53pm

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) acknowledged Tuesday that the Senate might be forced to make some changes to the health care reconciliation bill.

But Baucus cautioned that there are only one or two provisions that Democrats feel could be subject to a Republican point of order and that they are “minor.”

“We think we’re pretty much in the clear all the way around,” Baucus said. “There’s one or two that might have to be changed … in the whole scheme of things, they’re not going to defeat the bill. They’re not poison pills; they’re not game-changers. They’re minor, and we can deal with minor changes.”

Still, he reiterated that Senate Democrats’ goal is to pass the reconciliation measure of “fixes” to the Senate-passed bill “as is — no changes.” The Senate Parliamentarian has yet to rule on most of the provisions Republicans claim that the reconciliation bill violates.

Baucus declined to identify the provisions he believes might be susceptible to GOP points of order. If the Parliamentarian rules that Republicans have lodged a valid budget point of order against any particular provision, that provision would likely be stricken from the bill. Though reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered, the 59-member Senate Democratic Conference would need 60 votes to waive budget points of order.

Baucus said House leaders are aware that there are some provisions that have a “50-50” chance of being stricken, and he predicted the House would be able to quickly pass the changed bill if the Senate were unable to prevent a section from being eliminated.