- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Thursday that he can write a bill that comes in under $1 trillion and fully paid for, a symbolic goal that may win him additional support.

But the bill hasn’t been written, said Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat. The committee worked with the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ scorekeeper, to come up with options that would lead them to a $1 trillion bill.

“We have ways to fully pay for this bill,” Mr. Baucus said after a meeting of the finance committee.

Lawmakers debate health ‘public option’

Republicans leaving the meeting doubted the scoring, particularly without seeing a draft bill or a plan.

“I’m willing to bet money there’s some gimmickry going on, putting some things off so they don’t get scored at this point,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican.

President Obama said the bill must be fully paid for so that it doesn’t increase the federal debt. Republicans and some moderate Democrats have voiced concern about a bill that gets too high over $1 trillion.

The finance committee had been the last likely hope of obtaining a bipartisan bill — a stated goal of the White House and both parties in Congress. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee plan has been stalled by partisan bickering. And a House bill, crafted by three committees, appears to have little Republican support.

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