Health Reform Timeline Appears To Be Slipping
ABC News: "Senior Congressional Democrats told ABC News today it is highly unlikely that a health care reform bill will be completed this year, just a week after President Barack Obama declared he was 'absolutely confident' he'll be able to sign one by then." Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains confident, "and her spokesman Brendan Daly said ... 'We are going to get our part done,'" the delay is evident in the Senate.
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has yet to release the bill he eventually plans to bring to the Senate floor. Reid is still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to come up with an estimated cost of several possible variations of his bill before deciding which one to introduce in the Senate" (Karl, 11/3).
The Associated Press: "The possibility that Congress might not complete action on a major health care bill this year is another frustration for President Barack Obama and his allies. Even if it doesn't sink the health care effort, a delay would raise new uncertainties and push other domestic priorities further back" (Babington, 11/4).
The Wall Street Journal: But White House officials "minimized the prospect. Dan Pfeiffer, deputy communications director at the White House, said, 'Senator Reid has committed to the president that as soon as the Senate has the information back from the CBO they will move expeditiously to pass health reform'" (Adamy and Yoest, 11/4).
The Wall Street Journal reports in a second story that the Congressional Budget Office will not finish the cost estimate for the Senate bill by the end of the week (Yoest, 11/3).
At a news conference Tuesday, Reid said, "'We're not going to be bound by any timelines,' he said. 'We need to do the best job we can for the American people,'" The New York Times reports (Herszenhorn, 11/3).
Time: "Reid's comments were such a departure from the official line that, as soon as reports of them began appearing, his office issued a statement attempting to take the edge off of them. 'Our goals remain unchanged. We want to get health insurance reform done this year, and we have unprecedented momentum to achieve that,' Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. Reid's decision to include a public option in the bill that he takes to the floor has also complicated matters" (Tumulty, 11/3).
USA Today: "House Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are angling to begin debate on their bill by the end of the week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said floor action on a new bill released last week could begin as soon as Friday. Less than nine weeks are left until the end of the year ... and that includes holiday breaks scheduled for Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving" (Fritze, 11/3).
Roll Call reports that even the timeline in the House is slipping. "House Democrats on Tuesday night appeared close to having to delay a vote on their health care bill until Saturday or next week as Pelosi (D-Calif.) struggled to resolve the thorny issues of abortion and immigration. One option Democratic leaders were considering was to release a manager's amendment without the abortion issue resolved and to deal with it separately in the rule in a bid for time. (Hoyer) said that would not violate the party's pledge to give Members 72 hours to read the bill before having to vote on it." Abortion remains the biggest sticking point among members (Dennis and Newmyer, 11/4).
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that the House Rules Committee posted the Manager's Amendment to the health care reform bill Tuesday night. Since the Democrats pledged not to vote on it before it has been posted for 72 hours, the earliest that a vote could happen is Friday night (O'Brien, 11/3).