Hoyer: Health Care Vote Before Recess Unclear

Posted July 21, 2009 at 12:13pm

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is confirming what leadership aides have been signaling: that the House may not vote on a health care package before leaving town at the end of next week for a monthlong August break.

“I’ll make that decision next week. I’m not going to make it now,— Hoyer told reporters at his weekly roundtable.

Democratic leaders in the chamber are struggling to strike breakthrough agreements with moderates, who have pledged to block the measure in the Energy and Commerce Committee if a number of their concerns aren’t addressed. The panel, the last of three to approve the bill, postponed a planned markup Tuesday and is heading to the White House Tuesday afternoon to huddle with President Barack Obama.

On top of substantive gripes with the bill, vulnerable House Democrats have made it clear they don’t want to take a tough vote on a health care overhaul if the Senate doesn’t go first. And some freshmen have suggested staying in session for the first week of August if it would help the chamber track more closely with the Senate.

But Hoyer said, “I don’t think it’s a question of staying another week. It’s a question of seeing whether or not we can get to consensus. And if we can, both in the House and in the Senate, we ought to move.—