The Senate won't take further action to pass a final health care bill before Senator-Elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) takes his seat, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday.
"We're not going to rush into anything," Reid said at a press conference following the Senate's weekly caucus lunches. "We're going to wait until the new senator arrives before we do anything more on health care."
Across the Capitol, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday that Congress could pass health care in the roughly two weeks before Brown is seated and Democrats lose their filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate. But that time will mostly be spent focusing on job growth, Reid said.
In a reversal of Reid's earlier statements, however, he did not rule out the use of budget reconciliation to bypass a filibuster.
Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), a longtime friend of Ted Kennedy who will continue to hold Kennedy's seat until Brown is sworn in, told reporters on his way out of lunch that he's invited Brown to come down Thursday to begin the transition, although he said the timing of Brown's seating is out of his hands.
Asked for his reflections on Brown's victory over Martha Coakley, Kirk quipped, "How much time do you have?"
Kirk called Brown's campaign "impressive" and his victory "solid," but said he does not believe the vote was a referendum on health care reform. "You have to keep in mind that Massachusetts had health reform. I think people think that it's a good thing," he said. "I certainly won't take away from it, and I don't think anybody in the caucus took away from it, that this is a reason not to go forward on health care reform."
Of course, Brown, who campaigned on a promise to sustain the united Republican filibuster of health care reform, won't be joining that caucus.
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