Partisan Divide Alive and Well in Finance

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Wrapping up around 11 p.m., Day 2 of the Senate Finance Committee Markup of its health reform bill did not offer any surprise changes to the bill. On nearly every amendment that drew out partisan division or contentious debate, Democratic Chairman Max Baucus either won the vote along strict party lines or ruled the amendments were not relevant – and therefore required no vote. (One notable exception was Republican – and possible swing vote – Olympia Snowe. After a long debate, she voted with the Democrats on an amendment that would have stopped their proposed cuts to the Medicare Advantage program.)

(Tweet of the day after the jump)

Baucus tried most of the day to keep things moving along, even as Republicans on the committee wanted to keep debate going on nearly every amendment. Several times, Baucus asserted his rights as chairman to call for votes even, at one point, reading the committee rules to Republican Jon Kyl. Baucus is still hoping to wrap up amendments by the end of the week, but with hundreds remaining and Republicans in no hurry, Baucus may not get his wish.

Key quote of the day: “OK, let’s vote.” – Baucus said this every time he felt Republicans were dragging on debate too long, cutting off Senator Jon Kyl, among others, mid-sentence.

Lost in Translation Moment: Several Republicans said, in the interest of “transparency,” the committee should not vote on a bill until they have full “legislative language,” the complicated legalese only decipherable by a tiny fraction of Americans.

Tweet of the day: ezrakleinCamera doesn’t pan quick enough, so we see Baucus begin Blackberrying when Conrad starts talking. Win! – The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein watching the hearing on television.

What’s on deck: Many, many more amendments. Baucus may call for votes even faster or package amendments together to vote on them in blocks.