Reid doesn’t go for Enzi demands

REID DOESN’T GO FOR ENZI DEMANDS…. Yesterday, Sen. Mike Enzi, the conservative Wyoming Republican who is part of the Senate Finance Committee’s gang of six, said his little group’s deal couldn’t be tampered with later. He issued a statement explaining that he “needs commitments” from the White House, the Speaker, and the Senate Majority Leader that the center-right compromise “will survive in a final bill that goes to the president.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested today that’s not going to happen.

“I know how to count to 60,” Reid said, referencing the number of votes needed to kill a filibuster. “So anyone that would intimate that this is going to be all the HELP Committee bill or all the Finance Committee bill doesn’t know how to count to 60.”

He added later, “We can’t do it without Republican support.”

While it’s encouraging that the Senate won’t consider an untouched Finance Committee bill, I’d add that I know how to count to 60, too. And if there’s a good bill on the floor, and Reid’s caucus agrees that health care reform, after decades of delay, deserves an up-or-down vote, the majority most certainly can do it without Republican support.

As for the Finance Committee’s interminable center-right negotiations, we were told last week that the Senate wouldn’t have a floor vote before the August recess, but we would at least see the Finance Committee approve a bill. Today, Enzi said that’s not going to happen, either, and he expects his little group to work on an agreement once lawmakers return in September.

The Senate is scheduled to adjourn a week from tomorrow. The leadership can’t use the recess to reconcile HELP and Finance bills if Finance isn’t prepared to move forward until six weeks from now, at the earliest.

Seems like a situation in need of some Senate leadership. I wonder if we’ll see any.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.