The Senate Finance Committee won't hold formal negotiations on a health overhaul bill next week, pushing talks into the regularly scheduled August recess and raising concerns across a healthcare sector that's eager to see what legislation holds for them.
“It's clear there will not be a markup next week,” Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said. “That's clear, but nevertheless we're committed—if not more committed—to finding a bipartisan agreement.”
Hours earlier, however, that statement seemed in doubt. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), an integral part of a small, bipartisan team of Finance negotiators, had called for an extended deadline, calling a preliminary legislative package “not ready for prime time.” Later, Baucus tried to tamp down talk that a rift had developed among the so-called Gang of Six, which has been meeting almost daily to draft a bipartisan bill.
Emerging from a private meeting of committee Democrats, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York set the definitive timeframe. “There is only one deadline that matters—that's getting a law signed by the president that reforms healthcare by the end of the year,” he said. “And we'll get it done.”