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Richard Nixon Plays Role In Senate Health Bill

December 22, 2009

Another reason to thank Richard Nixon…..really.

Nixon, the 37th president, was known for working with Democrats on health care policy, including legislation in 1971 that opened a major government effort to fight cancer. (Senator Kennedy had lots to do with this.)

But his contribution to the current bill was to serve as more of a political counterforce: five of the six Democratic committee chairmen primarily responsible for writing the current health legislation were first elected to the House in 1974, riding a wave of public resentment over the Watergate scandal.

With the Senate poised to approve its health care measure before Christmas, and Democrats casting their thoughts forward to negotiations to reconcile differences between the Senate and House bills, the longstanding relationship of the chairmen — as members of the freshmen Congressional class of 1975 — could help smooth the way.

The five Democrats are: Senator Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Finance Committee; Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, acting chairman of the health committee for much of this year; Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the new chairman of the health committee; Representative George Miller of California, chairman of the Education and Labor Committee; and Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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