Senate Democrats

Reid, In Letter, Affirms Commitment To Unprecedented Transparency In Health Insurance Reform Debate

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a letter today to Senate Republicans, stood by his long-standing commitment to ensure transparency as the Senate continues to move closer to historic health insurance reform. In Reid’s letter, he cited the unprecedented steps taken by the Senate HELP and Finance Committees including lengthy public markups, inclusion of numerous Republican amendments to both committee proposals and long-standing availability of the proposed legislation on the Internet for public consumption.  
 
Reid also asked for Republicans, who have yet to publicly announce a comprehensive plan for reform, to ensure the same transparency once they introduce a comprehensive plan:  
 
“As you know, both the HELP and Finance Committees conducted lengthy public markups at which Republican and Democratic Senators offered numerous amendments and proposals by members of both parties were approved.  This legislation has been fully available on the Internet for many weeks.”  

“Once we receive the necessary information from CBO, we can begin to make decisions about what to include in a merged bill.  I assure you that I will make the legislation available to the full Senate and the American people prior to its consideration.  There will be ample opportunity to examine and evaluate its provisions. Furthermore, if we are able to overcome your opposition to permitting the Senate to even debate this important legislation, all members will have the opportunity to offer amendments.   I have no intention of rushing this process or blocking senators from offering alternatives.  

“However, as soon as a comprehensive Republican alternative is complete, I hope you will be willing to immediately make it public.  I am sure you agree that the American people deserve the opportunity to fully review both parties’ health reform plans before we begin this important debate.”  

 
                                                                       November 2, 2009
 
 
Dear Colleague:
 
Thank you for your recent letter on health care reform. I agree with you about the importance of ensuring that the Senate debate health care reform in an open and transparent way, and assure you that the process for considering this critical legislation will continue to meet that standard.  
 
As you know, both the HELP and Finance Committees conducted lengthy public markups at which Republican and Democratic Senators offered numerous amendments and proposals by members of both parties were approved.  This legislation has been fully available on the Internet for many weeks.  
 
As you also know, we are now working to take these publicly-available provisions and meld them together into a single bill.   Apart from my decision to include a public option from which states may opt out, no final decisions have been made – and none can be made until we get more information about how CBO would score different combinations.  In other words, there is no bill to release publicly – it does not exist.  
 
Once we receive the necessary information from CBO, we can begin to make decisions about what to include in a merged bill.  I assure you that I will make the legislation available to the full Senate and the American people prior to its consideration.  There will be ample opportunity to examine and evaluate its provisions.  Furthermore, if we are able to overcome your opposition to permitting the Senate to even debate this important legislation, all members will have the opportunity to offer amendments.  I have no intention of rushing this process or blocking senators from offering alternatives.  
 
While the two health care reform plans that are serving as the main building blocks for the merged bill have been publicly available for quite some time, I would note that the Republican leadership’s health care plan remains a secret, unless perhaps it does not exist.  
 
Needless to say, I fully understand if your plan is still under development, and would not presume to suggest that you publicly share draft legislative text for even an individual element of your plan, let alone an entire bill, before it is finalized.  
 
However, as soon as a comprehensive Republican alternative is complete, I hope you will be willing to immediately make it public.  I am sure you agree that the American people deserve the opportunity to fully review both parties’ health reform plans before we begin this important debate.
 
                                                           
                                               
                                                           Sincerely,
 
 
 
                                                           Harry Reid
                                                           Senate Majority Leader
                                                           

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