The ball is back in the Blue Dogs’ court.
Negotiations between House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders and seven Blue Dog Democrats on the panel over a health care reform package broke late Monday evening with the dissident moderates mulling a compromise offered by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), the lead Blue Dog negotiator, said his fiscally conservative group would consider the offer and either accept it, counter it or ask Waxman to continue talks. No details of the offer, however, were released.
In the meantime, Ross said Blue Dogs have asked Waxman to get the Congressional Budget Office to project how much savings the offer would generate. “It’s something we just felt like we needed a few hours to review,— Ross said.
Waxman said he hoped to resume marking up the bill on Wednesday. “We’re attempting to bridge the differences,— he said.
Waxman said the offer addresses all 10 items on the Blue Dogs’ list of concerns.
The developments came as Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who participated in the talks, threw more cold water on the idea that a health care bill could hit the House floor by the end of the week.
“That clearly will not be possible at this point in time given the commitment I made— to publicly post the bill 48 hours before a vote, Hoyer said.
But Hoyer left some wiggle room in his timeline, noting that while the House won’t vote by Friday, “we have other days available to us.—
“And, very frankly, if we reach agreement, the committee should act,— Hoyer added.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, frankly, before we bring a bill to the floor.—
With the focus remaining on breaking the logjam in committee, Waxman signaled that this week would be key.
“This is the week for markup,— he said. “If we’re going to do the bill out of committee, this is the week.—