Key Dem: Health negotiations could conclude in 'the next few weeks'

A key Democratic lawmaker on healthcare reform said Wednesday that House and Senate negotiators could reach an agreement on a final health bill in "the next few weeks."

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) -- the chairman of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee -- took to Twitter to say that he has begun working on the negotiations:

Working in DC on negotiations for final health reform bill. Prospects are good for resolution in next few weeks.

The congressman's tweet provides a loose timeframe for the negotiations. House and Senate leaders on Tuesday officially agreed to bypass a bicameral conference committee in favor of an informal "ping-pong" merger process.

Negotiations are expected to center around the Senate bill. The House is expected to amend the Senate bill then send it back to the upper chamber for final passage.

According to Democratic aides, the formal conference committee was abandoned out of fear that Republicans could use procedural delay tactics to extend the discussions and frustrate Democrats. 

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room