As the debate over health care reform legislation has heated up over the spring and summer months, the Senate Finance Committee has found itself at the center of the debate. Leading this debate has been the duo of Max Baucus, committee chair, and Chuck Grassley, committee ranking member. According to campaign finance records filed with the FEC, the duo raised $219,000 from health and insurance political action committees (PACs) from April to June of this year.
The majority of that money was raised by Sen. Grassley, who is up for reelection in 2010 and could face a Republican primary battle. During the height of the debate over health care, Grassley pulled in $165,100 from health and insurance PACs. At the same time, Grassley's language turned from the cautious but open words about reform in 2008 to the abrasive Twitter rants of 2009.
Earlier in the year, Grassley teamed with Baucus to pass an extension of benefits in the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). Now, the ranking Republican, while involved in bipartisan talks over a health reform bill, has become a forceful voice in opposition to all plans that have already passed out of other congressional committees and has taken to Twitter to attack President Obama and his call to get a bill completed sooner rather than later.
Max Baucus, chair of the Finance Committee, to the chagrin of congressional Democrats has heeded Grassley's plea to slow down the health reform process. The Finance Committee is currently the only congressional committee still debating a bill. This is after holding ten hearings on health care reform in 2008 in preparation for the 2009 debate and holding eight hearings this year. Baucus, despite a pledge to not take health care PAC money after June 1 was still able to raise $55,000 from health care PACs in April and May alone. This is without being up for reelection until 2014.
The majority of the money to the two senators comes from health professionals and pharmaceutical companies. The biggest contributors include Aetna, American Academy of Family Physicians, National Health Underwriters and Healthsouth Corporation.
As the committee continues to debate into the fall, we'll have to wait and see if the PAC contribution continue to pour in. The next reporting date is October 15. By then, a compromise may have already been crafted or the bipartisan talks could have fallen apart.
Cross-posted at the Sunlight Foundation blog.
To see more on health care sector influence in the Senate Finance Committee, see our coverage here.
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