Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Robin Carnahan called the Senate Finance Committee's passage of healthcare legislation Tuesday "an important step" in the debate, but stopped short of fully endorsing it.
"There is still a lot of work to be done before it is final, but I’m encouraged that there is still some bipartisanship in trying to figure out how to reform the system," Carnahan said in a statement provided to The Notebook.
After the key committee passed the $829 billion dollar bill with just one Republican vote, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) noted that Carnahan was willing to go "further and possibly support a government option." Citing an interview Carnahan did with The Notebook in July, the NRSC attempted to tie Carnahan to the public option -- which has been rejected by other moderate Democrats.
Sen. Max Baucus' bill, which cleared the committee hurdle Tuesday, does not include a public option.
When The Notebook asked Carnahan's campaign if this was legislation she could sign onto, the candidate provided an answer that allows wiggle room.
"As the bill continues through the process, I hope to see a final product that will get tough on insurance companies; ensure stability, security and choice for Missouri families and businesses, and reduce costs," Carnahan concluded in the statement.
Congressman Roy Blunt said the Baucus bill is "guaranteed to raise taxes on virtually everyone in America."
"Under this plan, if you have insurance, that’s a tax hike. Need insurance? That’s a tax hike. Employ people but can’t afford to cover them? That’s a tax hike. Take a prescription drug? Tax hike," Blunt said.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, who will be a key vote when the bill hits the floor, said she was encouraged by the legislation but fell short of backing it.
"I was really encouraged that the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office says this bill in the short term will not add a dime to our deficit and in the long term will actually reduce the deficit," McCaskill said, in a statement to The Notebook. "The bill is not perfect, but it’s a good place to start. I’m sure we will see some additional changes during the floor debate process," she added.
Now that the bill has cleared committee, Senate leadership will try to combine it's goals with the Senate Health Committee' reform package.
Looming over the entire debate is the fate of the public option, which moderates seem wary of, but liberals continue to campaign for aggressively.