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House Health Bill in Neutral

And as if she didn’t have enough problems, there are an array of smaller issues — such as abortion — that threaten to cost her even more votes and have not been resolved.

Democratic aides also pointed to the White House as unhelpful, given President Barack Obama has not weighed in to back the Medicare-based public insurance option or push it with Members. And there was frustration in their ranks Friday after Obama appeared to be leaning toward a “trigger” for a public option backed by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) just as House Democrats were pushing aggressively to round up support for the most robust plan. “It doesn’t help. They’ve spent all year being hands-off and then get involved in the 11th hour in a very unhelpful way,” said a Democratic aide.

The delay on the public option is threatening to roll back the leadership timeline for moving the measure — Pelosi has said she wants a bill signed into law by Thanksgiving. But one top Democrat said leaders will take all the time they need to build support. “There’s no rush to bring this to the floor until we have the votes we need,” Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said. “And the Speaker is very, very patient.”

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