ROBERTS LOOKING OUT FOR LOBBYISTS’ NEEDS…. As the Senate Finance Committee continues to work on health care reform, Sen. Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky pushed for an amendment that would have required a final CBO score on the bill before holding a vote. Baucus has signaled an intention to vote on a bill as early as this week, and Bunning’s measure would have pushed off a vote until October.
As it turns out, Bunning’s measure was narrowly defeated — though Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) supported it — but the committee will wait for preliminary CBO analysis, which will likely delay a vote until next week.
What was especially interesting, though, was hearing Sen. Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas explain why he supports a slow-down in consideration of the bill. Faiz Shakir flagged this gem, and has the video:
“[T]he thing I’m trying to point is we would have at least 72 hours for the people that the providers have hired to keep up with all of the legislation that we pass around here, and the regulations that we pass around here, to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Have you considered this?'” [emphasis added]
Generally speaking, lawmakers don’t like to admit it when they’re going out of their way to help corporate lobbyists who are trying to kill a bill. In this sense, Roberts’ candor was a pleasant change of pace.
But it’s also further evidence of the ridiculous way in which the congressional GOP is approaching this debate. Roberts has a staff that analyzes legislation. There’s also a Republican committee staff. If the senator wants to give experts a chance to go through the bill in detail, there are plenty of people on the payroll ready to do just that.
For Roberts, however, that’s not quite good enough. The committee, the bill, and the process should just cool their heels, the conservative Kansan said, while insurance company lobbyists have a chance to tell senators what they think about the bill.
Faiz added, “According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Roberts has received over $172,000 in political contribution from insurance companies over the last five years. Unsurprisingly, Roberts opposes a public option because, he claims, ‘it won’t work.’ Presumably, that’s because that’s what health insurance lobbyists have told him.”