No Blue Dog deal in House as compromise proves elusive

House leaders and the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats group could not agree on a compromise late Tuesday after more than six hours of discussion, complicating efforts to have legislation on the House floor before the August recess.

CongressDaily: "'No agreement's been reached, we continue to talk, and the talks will resume in the morning,' Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., said. Ross said they spent most of the afternoon's session discussing a Blue Dog counteroffer to the compromise proposal House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman floated to the group Monday. Specifics on both Waxman's offer and the Blue Dogs' alternative are scant..."

"House Speaker Pelosi, Hoyer, White House Chief of Staff [Rahm] Emanuel, Healthcare Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, Waxman and the seven committee Blue Dogs all participated in Tuesday's sessions. Ross said Emanuel, who stayed at the Capitol into the evening, was facilitating the discussions" (Hunt and House, 7/28).

CQ Politics: Ross "had previously said there were 10 issues, but he amended that number to 12. He did not specify which were proving most troublesome ... 'It might be impossible to come to agreement on some of them because of the ideological differences. . . . The legislative process is about give and take.'" According to CQ Politics, Ross said "said the goal of the talks, which will continue Wednesday, is 'to ensure to the American people that we have squeezed all the savings we can out of a very inefficient system.' The participants keep saying they have cause for optimism - 'We're making good progress,"' (Pelosi) said late Tuesday - but they have shown little proof that they are moving forward" (Armstrong and Wayne, 7/28).

Roll Call: "About two dozen liberal Members trickled in and out of the hour-long meeting with Pelosi, who discussed strategy for moving the bill forward if ... Waxman is unable to reach a deal with Blue Dogs this week" (Bendery, 7/28).

Bloomberg quotes House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel: "'I really hoped that we could have gotten a bill out of here by now,' he said, adding that he has a 'heavy political heart." Bloomberg also talked with House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who "said the impasse among Democrats will force party leaders to seek Republican support. 'If were going to have real health reform, it will have to be bipartisan.'" (Rowley and Gaouette, 7/28).

Politico: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swatted away a report - put out by a Republican staffer - that there would be no floor vote before recess. The speaker said leaders haven't decided when to leave, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said staying in session next week is still 'an option'" (Brown and O'Connor, 7/28).

Roll Call reported in a second story: "But Hoyer did not completely rule out the possibility that work on the bill could slip into next week. 'There's still obviously other time available to us,' he said. 'Saturday and next week is available. Now whether or not there will be any productive reason to stay for that period of time remains to be seen over the next couple of days'" (Newmyer and Dennis, 7/28).

The Hill: "The delay prompted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to lash out at the Blue Dogs as hypocritical and even hint that more liberal Democrats might challenge them in primaries. 'On the one hand they don't want to spend money, but on the other hand they want to spend money when it benefits them or their district,' Waters said on MSNBC, referring to Blue Dogs' demand to increase Medicare reimbursements for rural physicians" (Soraghan and Allen, 7/28).

All Democrats in the House are spending the meantime getting up-to-date with details in the bill, The Washington Post reports: "Last week the Democrats decided that, if they're going to try to sell this plan to their constituents, they need to have a better sense of what it says, line by line. They needed a teach-in." Staffers conducted a section-by-section walk-through from the very beginning to the very end. "After a couple of hours the Democrats had adopted a refrain: 'No one's going to say we haven't read the bill,' said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, as he took a break from the closed-door gathering" (Achenbach, 7/29).

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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