A proposed overhaul of health care narrowly passed the House. Now, the focus is on the Senate.
Senator McCaskill, a Democrat, dismisses Republican criticism that Senate Democratic leaders drafted the Senate health care bill behind closed doors without Republican input. McCaskill points out that two separate Senate committees approved different bills. The two had to be merged before the Senate could debate health care. McCaskill insists it is the Senate leader’s responsibility to merged different pieces of legislation.
“But the point is, after the bills are merged, that’s when the work begins on the bills and that’s when the amendment process opens up,” McCaskill says, “We’ll see during the debate if they (Republicans) want to participate or if they object to every single thing that happens.”
Work on health care legislation in Washington has dragged. The House had hoped to take up debate on health care prior to leaving on August break. That didn’t happen, giving opponents the opportunity to build opposition during town hall meetings held by members of Congress throughout the month. Earlier this month, the House narrowly approved a health care bill on a 220-to-215 vote. The Missouri delegation largely opposed the measure, with only three of our nine members of Congress voting in favor of it.
McCaskill says she hopes the Senate bill will focus more on the cost of health care than the House bill does. She says Congress must get a handle on costs. McCaskill believes that most members of Congress agree on most of the bill. She says the contentious debate centers on only 20-to-25% of the legislation.
Will Congress get a bill to President Obama before the end of the year?
“I don’t know that it will be on his desk by the end of the year,” says McCaskill. “I’m hopeful that we will complete the work in the Senate by the end of the year. And then it will be a matter of the conference committees, between the House and the Senate, coming together after the first of the year to fashion the final piece of legislation that we all can agree on or that the majority can agree on and then the bill will go to the president’s desk.”
And if health care legislation is defeated?
“Well, I think we’d have to start over again and try to work at it,” McCaskill responds. “This is a problem that we can’t afford to ignore”