The Senate Finance Committee will move ahead with healthcare reform in the next couple of weeks whether Republicans want to cut a bipartisan deal or not, chairman Max Baucus told Democratic members of the panel Wednesday morning.
Baucus has been leading the so-called "Group of Six" effort to find a compromise on reform, but even the Republicans involved in the talks have indicated they might not vote for whatever bill the discussions produce. Now a source tells Salon Baucus plans to go ahead and release his own draft -- known as a chairman's mark -- by the middle of next week, with or without Republican support and input. The committee could move to debate and vote on the plan by the week after that.
"He is making clear in the meeting that it is time for action and time to move forward to get a bill done by the end of the year," the source said.
The deadline could force the GOP lawmakers involved -- Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe -- to decide whether they're really committed to a deal or not. Of those three, Snowe has been the most open to Democratic proposals.