In the latest of a long series of optimistic pronouncements, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus stated this morning that he wanted to complete markup of the Committee’s health care reform bill “by nightfall” today.
If the Committee were indeed to meet this schedule, the next move would be up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who would work to combine the Finance Committee and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee bills into a single bill to be brought to the Senate floor for debate, a process that could take weeks, and one that Senator Reid is already shifting recess schedules to allow for.
More realistically (and reflecting Senate Finance’s failure to meet any of Senator Baucus’ previous timing hopes), markup will take at least a couple more days, followed by review of the CBO’s preliminary scoring of the bill, followed by a final Committee vote.
Best guess? A combined bill will reach the Senate floor in two or three weeks’ time, to be followed by a multi-week debate.