U.S. House unlikely to vote on health care reform by March 18

10:40, March 12, 2010      

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White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday the House of Representatives are not likely to schedule a vote on the health insurance reform by March 18, as he indicated earlier, and Congressional Democrats are working to consolidate position inside their own caucus.

Gibbs said it might take the House a few days past March 18 to finish the bill. He told reporters last week he believed the House was on schedule to vote on the legislation by March 18, when President Barack Obama leaves for overseas trips to Indonesia and Australia.

Before Gibbs spoke, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Congressional Democrats "are not going to set any arbitrary deadlines," as there are still issues to be addressed in order to advance the bill.

The White House was pushing for an early vote on the reform. Obama said Wednesday in a rally in St. Louis, Missouri, that "the time to talk is over. It's time to vote."

Reid formally notified Republicans that the Democrats intend to use the budget process called reconciliation to pass the health reform.

In a letter to the Republican leadership, Reid said the Democrats "plan to use the regular budget reconciliation process that the Republican caucus has used many times."

Reconciliation requires only a simple majority to push forward a controversial budget bill, as the Democrats are one vote short of a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate.

Democrats are now working to secure the votes they need, especially in the House, where many politically vulnerable Democrats worry the health care bill may do them damage in an election year.

Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, met Thursday morning with House Democrats, to address, "member-by-member," the concerns they raise.

"We have a pretty good idea of where we are going," said Pelosi. Another meeting was planned in the afternoon.

Source: Xinhua
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