The Senate Finance Committee vote won’t happen today. It has been pushed back until later this week or even next week, ostensibly so the CBO can come up with a final score. But it may have more to do with the fact that they don’t have the votes. Jay Rockefeller made an impassioned speech last week about the time he spent with VISTA and indicated he’s probably a "no" vote on the Baucus bill, despite arm twisting from the White House. (It will make you tear up if you haven’t seen it.) And now it looks like Ron Wyden might be in that column too. Since Baucus can only lose one Democrat and still get something through a committee with 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans, he has to bring one of them back on the reservation.
I got a tip last week shortly after Wyden’s midnight outburst, when he was told that the CBO messed up and didn’t score his amendment and therefore there would be no vote. I called around and was able to substantiate most (but not all) of it with other sources — but offer it up here in its entirety FWIW. . .
I’ve just spoken to several high up staffers I know on the Hill who work in the Senate. One works for a top Democrat on the Finance Committee/Wyden. Get this: the person sat through the process until 1 am and gave some really wild details. Wyden was promised a vote on his amendment to keep him from slamming the bill too much during the process. At the last second Baucus said "no way" because the CBO didn’t have a cost estimate. Well things went ballistic. Wyden slammed the bill as a joke. Wyden is a "no" vote on the bill and will be on MSNBC about what a crock it is for having a closed off public option. After Baucus screwed Wyden some Senate staffers, furious with this whole ordeal and watching liberals on the committee get slapped, went into the parking lot and tore off their Obama bumper stickers as Nancy Anne DeParle went rushing after some! Holy cow, my friend said the mood is as intense as ever seen between the White House and Senators. They said something is going to give here.
Other sources confirmed that Wyden was pissed, the CBO snafu was suspicious, and he did subsequently appear on MSNBC slamming the bill. I also confirmed with other Hill sources that Baucus did something similar to another Senator on the committee — promised them "something" in exchange for keeping their criticism of the bill to a minimum, and then at the last minute the "something" didn’t appear. So the notion that there’s a huge problem on the liberal end of the committee right now that prevents the bill from passing is not far fetched.
Baucus has always has the attitude that he was the official stenographer for the White House deals (and he was). If anyone had a problem with that, they could go argue with the White House. But it appears that liberals in the House aren’t the only ones upset about the high-handed treatment they have received.
Last week Baucus was in such a rush to get the bill passed that they couldn’t score Wyden’s amendment and vote on it later. Too bad for you, Ron. Now? Well, it appears they are once again operating at a leisurely pace. Looks like the"liberals" in yet another chamber are having a hard time swallowing Rahm’s bitter pill.