House, Senate Tread Water On Health Reform; Summer Votes Unlikely
"Top House Democrats sought to minimize the impact of a near-certain missed deadline for health care legislation on Tuesday as the leadership struggled to ease the concerns of rank-and-file critics," the Associated Press reports. "President Barack Obama had asked Congress to advance legislation through both houses by the time lawmakers leave on a monthlong summer vacation, a plea that now appears unlikely to be met."
Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other members of the House leadership have been waylaid by "a rebellious group of conservative and moderate Democrats," the Blue Dogs, which are refusing to support the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee without concessions, such more limitations on the government-run insurance plan the bill would create.
Meanwhile, a group of six Finance Committee senators continued debating their own version of the bill in closed-door sessions. They are not expected to include a public plan, despite Obama's support of the idea, and are considering a tax on employer-sponsored health plans that could soar as high as 35 percent, a provision the White House has resisted.
"There's still a bit of daylight between the positions [of the Blue Dogs and Democratic leadership]," said Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D, a Blue Dog. "In the Senate, officials stressed that no agreement has been reached on a bipartisan measure, and said there is no guarantee of one, with numerous key issues remaining to be settled," the AP reports (Werner, 7/28).