Baucus: ‘I am going to move forward’ with or without Republican support for health bill.

Appearing before reporters this afternoon, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) announced that he will introduce a chairman’s mark of his proposed health care bill next week and begin marking up legislation in committee the week of September 21. Baucus said he “hopes and expects” Republicans to support the mark:

I very much hope and expect there will be some Republicans when I issue the mark next week and when we go to mark-up the final week. My door is open. Irrespective of any Republican that I do think there will be, I will move forward anyway. We have to move forward. … I very much hope and do expect Republicans will be on-board. I don’t know how many, but if there are not any, I am going to move forward in any event.

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Baucus also said that there are not enough votes in the Senate to pass a public health insurance option and denied reports that his committee was considering replacing the public plan with a “trigger.” Last night, CNN reported that Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), a ranking member on the Committee and a party to the gang of six, “intends to offer counter proposals” today.