House Recesses, Democrats Reflect On Accomplishments And What’s Ahead
House Democrats celebrated late last week the passage of a health reform bill out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but they still face a lot of work when they return in September, Roll Call reports.
"Democrats managed to reach landmark agreements between Blue Dogs and liberals on the Energy and Commerce Committee at an epic markup last week, but it took weeks of almost round-the-clock negotiating with House leaders and the White House But the splits that emerged in the Energy and Commerce Committee remain far from resolved. Everything from the makeup of a new public insurance option to the cost of the bill to the tax hikes to pay for it continue to divide Democrats."
"More liberal members of the House are still fuming over negotiations - and what they perceive to be leadership rolling-over for the Blue Dog Democrats -held last week with more conservative members of the House. Negotiations in the meantime with liberal members yielded "backing for amendments putting the squeeze on insurance and drug companies, along with other cost-cutting provisions, with any savings going to restore subsidies for low- and middle-income Americans to buy insurance." The subsidies were shrunk by the Blue Dog deal, liberals say, fueling their anger (Dennis, 8/3).
The Wall Street Journal reports: "Moderate Democrats won an amendment widening the number of small businesses exempted from a mandate to provide coverage to workers, among other things. Liberal Democrats won a provision allowing the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies under Medicare, a change from current law. Democratic lawmakers had hoped that passing bills out of each chamber by August would set the stage for final action after Labor Day. But House Democratic leaders found it difficult to corral rank-and-file lawmakers" (Hitt and Adamy, 8/3).
The Associated Press: "'We passed a bill out that shows that we can bring together conservative, moderate and progressive Democrats,' Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said after the vote. 'We're going to need that coalition on the House floor, and I feel confident that we'll pass a health care reform bill in the House when we come back in September.' Five Democrats and all committee Republicans opposed the bill" (Werner, 8/1).