Dodd Hedges on July Timetable for Health Bill

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Wednesday declined to predict that the Senate would vote on a health care reform bill before the summer recess, an indication that markup delays in the Finance Committee may derail the carefully laid timetable for the legislation.

Asked if the bill would be done in July, Dodd hedged and then said, “That’s the goal.— Democratic leaders in previous comments have sounded far more optimistic the legislation would move this summer.

Democrats and the White House have planned to have bills pass in both the House and Senate by July in order to spend September reconciling the legislation and then getting it to President Barack Obama’s desk by the middle of October.

Pushing the Senate floor debate on the legislation into September would not only complicate the health bill, but it could back up plans to move energy legislation in the fall.

Dodd, who is leading the health care effort in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the absence of the ailing Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), spoke at the White House after an event on financial regulation overhaul. Dodd appeared to display some frustration with the decision by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to postpone a markup, possibly until after the July Fourth recess.

“If you don’t have a markup, things don’t happen,— Dodd said. “I’ve got to keep them at the table.—

Obama had Dodd and Baucus to the White House only a week ago to demand they stick to the quick pace they had outlined.

Dodd said he had spoken to Kennedy at length Wednesday morning and expressed hope that the Senator will be back to take control of the health bill at some point.

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