The Finance Committee. Check out the roster of Democrats: it’s a pretty conservative bunch.
If you were going to make a list of the most effective progressives in the Senate, you might mention Boxer, Mikulski, Dodd, Leahy, Reed, Whitehouse, Levin, Durbin, Feingold, Franken, Harkin, Merkeley, and maybe Klobuchar.
Well, guess what? None of them are on the Finance Committee. Neither was Kennedy.
When Schumer wants to be effective, he is, and not surprisingly, he has been the leading progressive voice on health care in the Senate. (Don’t tell me about Rockefeller: his laying down as the ranking Demnocrat on Intelligence during the Bush years is infamous. He is now chair of the very powerful Commerce Committee. Heard about any important hearings he has held? Me, neither. Ditto with Kerry: in 2004, Bush was right to say that he had accomplished nothing in 20 years in the Senate.)
So if you want to know why health care is having a hard time getting through Senate Finance, you now know the reason. But why has Finance become so conservative? Answer that and you might learn even more about the dysfunctional Senate.