The Art Of The Deal
The Senate Finance Committee preserved the White House deal with Big Pharma yesterday, but the vote was extremely close. So much so that I'm not convinced they'll be able to hold that deal on the Senate floor.
During the third day of the committee’s markup of the legislation, the vote on the Medicare amendment introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) provided the most awkward political moment yet for committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — not to mention the White House, which made a deal with drug makers to limit their exposure.
Baucus and Democratic Sens. Tom Carper (Del.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.) joined the panel’s Republicans in beating back the amendment on a 10-13 vote.
Despite Nelson’s failure to attach the language to the committee’s bill, the argument among Democrats is far from over. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised to support the amendment when the bill reaches the Senate floor, Nelson said. The House’s healthcare reform bill includes similar provisions.
Maybe Ben Nelson or Evan Bayh or Mary Landrieu agree with these three - Delaware and New Jersey are big pharma states, but I don't see Ted Kaufman (who's a short-timer and who voted for cramdown in bank-heavy Delaware) or Frank Lautenberg giving in on this. I'm just not seeing 10 votes among Democrats against this policy. Blanche Lincoln voted for this in committee. So did Kent Conrad. It was Bill Nelson's amendment. Who are the conservaDems left?
I wouldn't be surprised if the White House twisted enough arms to get their deal, but I don't see a whip count that gets them there. We'll see.