House Democrats Hope To Forge Deal On Package, Wait For Score
As they worked to move health care reform legislation through the Energy and Commerce Committee, House Democrats said they were close to a compromise with fiscally conservative Democrats, a group that so far has been a roadblock, The Hill reports.
"Reps. (Henry) Waxman (D-Calif.) and Mike Ross (D-Ark.) emerged from more than three hours of negotiations late Monday to say that the Blue Dogs were weighing an offer from Waxman. Blue Dogs have asked Waxman to get a cost estimate for the bill. 'The chairman has made an offer,' said Ross, who is the lead Blue Dog on healthcare reform. 'We have asked that he get a [Congressional Budget Office] score, that is, find out how much it would cost. We're going to review it and see if it's something we can accept.' Ross and Waxman would not discuss any specifics of the proposal. But Ross said it addresses all 10 of the concerns Blue Dogs have raised with the bill."
Democrats also dismissed the idea that they could vote on a bill on the House floor by Friday this week: "(House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer [D-Md.]) said the deadline can't be met because of procedural hurdles and promises leaders made to give lawmakers time to read the bill. But he added, 'We have other days available to us.' He has previously said that the House could meet Saturday, Monday or Tuesday" (Soraghan, 7/27).
Democrats, meanwhile, continue to look for someone to blame for the delays, Politico reports: "But even if they won't acknowledge it publicly, most Democrats in Congress know the truth: It's their own colleagues who are slowing down progress in both the House and the Senate." That blame falls largely on Blue Dog Democrats as well, Politico reports. "At this stage in the debate, Waxman and the speaker could use just about all the help they can get. While there's still an outside chance that the House will vote on a bill before members leave town at the end of the week - as the president had originally hoped - leadership aides suggest that a more realistic target would be getting the bill through the Energy and Commerce Committee before recess" (O'Connor, 7/28).
Meanwhile, "During a marathon meeting intended to walk members through the complicated healthcare bill, Democratic leaders sought to take their caucus's temperature," The Hill reports in a separate story: "'I have said that I wanted the bill to pass before we left for the August recess,' Pelosi said. 'But I've also said that our members need the time they need to not only get this bill written, but to have plenty of time to review it. And I've also said that we need to see the direction that the Senate is going, so that we can do as much work in advance of [a September conference committee]'" (Allen and Soraghan, 7/27).
Democrats dismissed the idea of bypassing the committee, an idea Waxman originally proposed last week, The Christian Science Monitor reports: "Democratic leaders again Monday sought to dispel rumors that they were prepared move a bill to the House floor this week without input from the Energy and Commerce panel. 'This effort has been long in the making and it is long overdue,' (Hoyer said) at a briefing. 'We are going to work until this is done. [Democrats] will adopt in this Congress, this year, a very good healthcare reform'" (Russell Chaddock, 7/27).
Roll Call reports that the GOP is keeping mum on its plan, at least until Thursday (Kucinich, 7/27).
The GOP did criticize the caucus meeting itself, CQ Politics reports: "Top House Republicans, who appear united in their opposition to the Democrats' health proposals, said the very fact that such a lengthy caucus meeting was planned showed the problems with the bill. 'That ought to tell how large, bureaucratic and government-centered this bill is. That makes the American people very nervous. They [the Democrats] are going to take something that's very personal and turn it over to the government,' charged Minority Leader John A. Boehner , R-Ohio" (Epstein and Armstrong, 7/28).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.