December 22,2010

Grassley on Role of Finance Committee in Health Care Legislation


To:       Reporters and Editors
Re:       Health care negotiations
Da:      Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, today commented on a statement in the New York Times from Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, about health care legislative negotiations last year.  Relevant excerpt:

“On health care, Mr. Reid faults himself for not having been partisan enough. He shared responsibility with Mr. Obama for a costly delay in floor action to allow for extended, fruitless negotiations between Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.

“We spent far too much time piddling around in the Finance Committee,” Mr. Reid said. “That was handled very poorly.” ”

Grassley comment:

“The bipartisan committee negotiations involving Chairman Baucus and me ended up not having any chance to produce a bipartisan agreement because the Democratic leaders and the White House pulled the rug out from under the negotiations.  Meanwhile, the HELP bill and House bills were partisan products rushed through on a partisan timetable.  Despite pressure from the Democrats, Chairman Baucus scheduled a committee mark-up and allowed a legitimate committee debate with amendments from both sides.  Ironically, the bill signed into law most closely reflects the Finance Committee product, despite Senator Reid’s view that the Finance Committee deliberation was a waste of time.  From an accountability standpoint, it’s puzzling that you wouldn’t want one of the key committees of jurisdiction to develop and vet a huge piece of legislation that affects just about every person’s health care and one-sixth of America’s economy.   When you rush through a partisan bill, you deprive the public of a chance to learn about the proposals or for legislators to hear from people with expertise who could improve the legislation.  Disregarding the process weakens the legislative product.  More reliance on the process might have prevented some of the special deals and partisan overreach that are now causing public concern as people learn what’s in the law.”