But its many concessions, including omission of the public option, have not translated into support from Republicans or even some moderate Democrats. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on Baucus's Finance Committee, said late Tuesday that he would not support the bill.
“Unfortunately, we're operating under an artificial deadline set by the Democratic leadership and the White House,” Grassley said in a written statement. “I'm disappointed because it looks like we're being pushed aside by the Democratic leadership so the Senate can move forward on a bill that, up to this point, does not meet the shared goals for affordable, accessible health coverage that we set forth when this process began.”
Grassley, part of the so-called Gang of Six, was one of three GOP senators who closely negotiated with Baucus and two other Democrats. While other lawmakers said that Grassley had won several concessions in the bill, they were not enough to garner his vote.
Fellow Republican Mike Enzi echoed Grassley's sentiments. “I am disappointed that deadlines took precedence over agreement of the bipartisan group of Finance Committee members, as we worked on a final healthcare bill," Enzi said in a written statement.
When asked Tuesday evening if he had a commitment from the three Republicans, Baucus demurred. “At this moment, that's still an open question,” he said.
Baucus has even seen support among some Democrats erode over the past several weeks, with one of them going public with his disapproval on Tuesday.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Finance Committee's health panel, blasted the bill primarily for not having a public option, but also cited what he sees as unfair coverage rules and carve-outs for Republicans.
Still, many more steps remain in the process, and Baucus said all sides would continue to meet.
“There are a lot of steps, a lot of days between now and final passage in committee,” he said. “There are a lot of ways for senators to try to work their way to support it.”
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