GOP Indulges in Health Amendment Free-for-All

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2009 11:15 AM CDT
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, left, talks with ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Reasoned debate is all well and good, but the more than 300 amendments offered to the health care reform bill by finance committee Republicans are “dangerously close to a parody,” Dana Milbank writes. Or maybe they’re already there. Take Orrin Hatch’s request for “transition relief for the excise tax on high-cost insurance plans for any state with a name that begins with the letter 'U.'” There’s only one state that starts with ‘U:’ Hatch’s Utah.

The amendments on offer are largely “message amendments,” aimed to appeal to constituents and lobbies, Milbank writes in the Washington Post. Many aimed at eliminating fees on insurance companies, like the one Sen. Chuck Grassley sponsored, would instead cut care to low-income Americans on Medicaid. When Dems suggested he couldn't be serious, Grassley looked hurt. "You don't really believe that this is a message amendment, do you?"