Reid: No Health Care Vote Until September

By Caitlin Taylor

Jul 23, 2009 2:21pm

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made it official today:  The Senate will not vote on a health care bill until September.  This marks a significant setback to President Obama’s push for health care reform. He has pressed Congress to act before the August recess, but deep divisions among Democrats have made that schedule impossible for Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to stick to. The development gives us a new timeline:  The Senate Finance Committee, Reid says, will produce a bill sometime before the start of the summer congressional recess August 7. Next, Reid, D-Nev., will personally lead an effort to combine the Finance bill with the bill passed by the Health committee.  He said he will consult with fellow Democratic senators, the White House and with a few Republicans in merging the bills.  The new merged bill will be taken up shortly after the Senate returns on Sept. 7. It’s looking more and more likely there will be a delay in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., insists she has the votes to pass bill, but won’t say when that will happen. Pelosi’s aides are saying say they want to see some action in the Senate before going ahead. They also need to resolve a deadlock between moderate Blue Dog Democrats and Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., in the House Energy & Commerce Committee. “I’m not afraid of August,” Pelosi said today when asked today if she is worried about losing momentum if the bill isn’t passed before the August recess. The number three Democrat in the House, Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., seems a little more concerned about August. He said today the House should not go into recess until passing the bill.  You can’t blame any of this delay on Republicans.  Today, Pelosi had a contentious closed-door meeting with her Democratic caucus.  Some members demanded a vote before August; others demanded more time.  Some members expressed concern about the bill’s costs; others expressed concern the bills don’t go far enough.  Pelosi called the meeting “invigorating.” And Reid acknowledged a contentious meeting of Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee this morning, but he insisted that all Democrats will ultimately be in agreement on health care reform. Reid made his comments at a press conference with the Democratic Senate leadership.  Joining the Senators were two women who shared their health-insurance horror stories:  one who blamed inadequate care for the death of her husband last month from late-diagnosed kidney cancer and the other who was denied coverage because of her breast cancer. 

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