Senate Finance Committee Ends Amendment Process, Next Stop Reid's Office

The Senate Finance Committee late last night finished amending the chairman's mark. The amended bill will be sent to the CBO for analysis. It is assumed that by Tuesday the CBO will have a preliminary score of the bill. If bill scores as not adding to the deficit, the committee should vote on the piece of legislation.

The bill is expected to pass despite the fact that several Democratic members of the committee are unhappy with the shape of the legislation. Committee members have been lobbied by administration officials to keep the process moving forward.

The big question is whether Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe will vote for the bill. Snowe appears to be the only Republican senator who might possibly vote for health care reform. She could vote against the bill in committee, but eventually vote for the bill after it is amended on the floor. If she voted for the bill in committee it might give her greater sway in deciding on how the two Senate bills (FinCom and HELP) are merged. HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin does not see room at the table for Republicans when the bills are merged.

Once out of committee, the bill must be merged with the Senate HELP Committee bill. The HELP bill contains a public option, tougher regulations, and more generous subsidies. Majority Leader Harry Reid will be responsible for merging the two bills. It is up to Reid as to whether or not the bill that is brought to the floor contains a public option.

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