White House Negotiating Session Turns Into Marathon
House and Senate leaders have been meeting at the White House for nearly five hours on health care reform and other agenda items, with House leaders taking a brief break to vote on the floor this afternoon.One Democratic source said it appeared President Barack Obama was insisting that negotiators remain at the White House until they have reached agreements in principle on several major issues dividing the two chambers on the health care package. Obama is hoping to have a final product in hand by February, but intraparty disputes continue to threaten that goal.Democrats in attendance at the White House include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.); Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.); Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.); Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin (Iowa); Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.); Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.); House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.); House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.); House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (Calif.); House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (N.Y.); and House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (Calif.).While the House voted, Senate leaders met with White House officials on raising the debt limit, one aide said.