US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seems to have picked a strange day to hint that the all-important health care bill might be delayed. The bad news for Democrats comes on election day, as Republicans bank on potentially winning three key races in Virginia, New Jersey and New York. Meanwhile, the pushback will undoubtedly have an effect on the 2010 elections.
"U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wouldn’t commit to passing an overhaul of the U.S. health- care system this year, saying the chamber will take the time it needs to produce 'quality legislation,'" Bloomberg news reports.
“We’re not going to be bound by any timelines,” Reid told reporters in Washington today after a closed-door meeting of all Senate Democrats.
With just weeks left to complete congressional work for the year, the timetable threatens to push consideration of health-care legislation into 2010, when all House seats and 38 of the Senate’s 100 seats are on the ballot.
Fox News's Trish Turner reports, "Despite President Obama's goal of signing healthcare reform legislation this year -- one backed by assurances from congressional Democrats -- Senate Democratic leaders Tuesday subtly acknowledged that's not likely to happen as they started the delicate dance of walking back expectations."
Fox News adds,
Previously, the Nevada Democrat had said a bill could be finished by various other deadlines, with Thanksgiving being the most recent one. But Reid started to qualify his answer after an August recess deadline came and went, saying that he didn't want to be bound by "arbitrary timelines."
Other Democratic leaders echoed Reid's shift in position.
"We will move with all deliberate speed," Sen. Chuck Schumer said, a far departure from last week when he said that a health care bill would get done by Christmas.
The Associated Press reports, "Reid said he was awaiting a final analysis of the legislation from the Congressional Budget office, a time-consuming process that makes it unlikely the Senate would begin debate before Veterans' Day, Nov. 11. With scores of amendments, Senate debate could take weeks."
The AP notes that "[p]ushing the work into early next year could prove politically dicey as all of the House and a third of the Senate face elections in November. Lawmakers may be reluctant to cast votes that could be their undoing at the polls."