Roll Call is reporting that the Senate Finance Committee is delaying the markup of its health care bill — scheduled for next Tuesday — until after the July 4 recess. The reason why this is major news is that Congress was already looking at an ambitious timeline to get health care legislation passed by July 31, before lawmakers go on summer recess. Now the earliest the Finance Committee will begin to rewrite its bill would be July 6, meaning they’ll have less than a month to: finalize their proposed legislation, merge it with the bill currently under consideration by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduce it to the broader Senate, debate it, and pass it.
I’ll have to make some calls to get a better sense of how the change came about, but my guess is that the major factor was the news that the Congressional Budget Office was set to put a $1.6 trillion price tag on a draft of the Finance Committee bill. Coming on the heels of the major embarassment this week when the CBO estimated that just a part of the HELP bill would increase the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years, Democrats likely decided to delay the unveiling of another massive bill until they could find a way to improve the CBO score.
UPDATE: The Hill reports that Finance Committee chair Max Baucus says their bill will be rewriten to chop $600 billion off of its price tag, but he was vague about whether this would delay markup until after July 4.
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