Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The New York Times' Robert Pear discusses the working group in the House of Representatives that is quietly working to build a consensus around a health reform proposal. He writes,
Three powerful House committee chairmen have agreed to work together on legislation to overhaul the health care system, starting with the view that most employers should help finance coverage and that the government should offer a public health insurance plan as an alternative to private insurance. . . .
The three chairmen, George Miller and Henry A. Waxman of California and Charles B. Rangel of New York, all Democrats, have a combined total of more than 100 years of service in the House. Mr. Miller, chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction over employee benefits, said the three lawmakers had decided to “try and work as one committee to produce a comprehensive health care bill this summer. In a letter to President Obama, the chairmen said, “Our intention is to bring similar legislation before our committees.” Mr. Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “We intend to work from a single bill, and have that bill considered by the House before the August recess.” The Senate committee chairmen responsible for health legislation, Max Baucus of Montana and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats, have outlined a similar schedule.
Such agreements, while no guarantee of success, could help build momentum for a bill. A united front could make it harder for lobbyists to derail legislation. White House officials welcomed the prospect of cooperation by House leaders, saying it increased the chances of passing a bill to expand coverage this year, a top priority for Mr. Obama. . . .