Senator Tom Harkin says Republicans won’t be involved in crafting the final version of a health care reform plan that will be debated in the full senate. Harkin, a Democrat, is now chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and he’ll be one of the lead architects of the bill.
Harkin says voters “overwhelmingly” elected Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to enact change. “I think now is the time for the administration to start weighing in, when we start putting the final bill together, bringing it out on the floor, rounding up votes, working with us in conference committee featuring House and Senate members) to get a good bill put together,” Harkin says.
“I think now is the proper time for the administration to be heavily involved and I understand they’re going to be.” As Radio Iowa reported Thursday morning, Harkin said there is no doubt a so-called “public option” will be part of the final senate bill, and he predicts Democrats have the votes in the senate to pass it.
Harkin’s declaration that Republicans won’t have a seat at the table when the health care reform bill from Harkin’s committee is merged with the Finance Committee’s bill doesn’t sit well with Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns, a Republican. “Now that’s where the legislation really is going to be written because you’ve got a different bill out of (Harkin’s) committee, you’ve got a different bill out of the Finance Committee,” Johanns says, “and (Harkin) says, basically, that Republicans won’t be a part of this.”
Johanns, the former governor of Nebraska who served as President Bush’s ag secretary, will be in Iowa this weekend to participate in a symposium marking the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul the Second’s visit to Iowa.