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Murkowski Urges Senate Not to Rush Health Care Legislation to Meet an Arbitrary Deadline

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged the Senate to slow down its consideration of health care reform legislation and take the time to "get it right."

The Senate Finance Committee opened hearings Sept. 22 on the legislation, with Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana saying the full Senate could begin debating it as soon as next week if the committee approves its version this week. Senate Democratic leaders have also threatened to cancel a Columbus Day recess unless health care legislation clears the chamber by that time.

Murkowski, however, warned against rushing to pass legislation that affects one sixth of the economy just to meet an arbitrary deadline.

"I would suggest that the people in Alaska are telling me - 'No, you stay there and you do the work that you need to do to get a good product, to get a good policy. You don't set up these arbitrary deadlines. You don't take a recess and say Okay, we're done,'" Murkowski said at the weekly Senate Republican leadership news conference in the U.S. Capitol.

Murkowski, vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, noted that it took the Senate Health Committee, of which she is a member, four weeks to approve its version of a health care bill. Murkowski voted against that legislation, saying the trillion dollar price tag was too high and the creation of a government run insurance plan was bad policy.

Murkowski said the task before the Senate now is doubly hard, as the Democratic leadership has talked of combining thousands of pages from the vastly different bills into a single measure for floor consideration.

"The work the Finance Committee has to do is a huge lift," Murkowski said. "And then . . . melding it with the Health product is going to be extremely difficult. And then getting it to the entire Senate so that we make sure that the policies and reforms that we are asking the American public to take are good policies. The more we rush it, the more we yield a result for this country that is not good policy."

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