Reforming health care gets more complicated for Democrats

Democrats’ plan to dramatically expand health coverage failed to get a vote Tuesday night — and at least one lawmaker said the proposal will need to be modified to get the 60 votes necessary to advance. The $2 trillion bill, to be paid for by rolling back some tax breaks for the wealthy, Republicans said, could not be dealt with in a single debate, and did not fare well in committee hearings.

“The Grassley bill — and I haven’t seen them all — but the Grassley bill has not — can’t — pass the Senate because it does not have 60 votes. That’s not my preference, but we have to continue talking,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said on the Senate floor. “Just yesterday, I met with the Majority Leader, and I told him I have a plan to put it together, but it’s got to change, it’s got to be stronger, it’s got to contain the 2 percent tax on very high-end investments. Because I believe, personally, that should be a tax on wealthy individuals and corporations.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the ranking member of the Finance Committee, acknowledged Tuesday that to bring a bill to the floor under the Special Order Rule, a process that would require at least a majority of senators to agree to proceed, “it would take 60 votes, and the Whip is looking at exactly what’s needed to get there.”

“We’re working very hard to develop a plan,” he said.

According to a committee source, Republican leaders want a package to be drafted by Thursday.

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