By Sam Youngman - 07/21/09 02:16 PM EDT
The president, seeking to prod the Democratic-controlled Congress to show significant progress on healthcare reform before the August recess, directed blame at the GOP for the stalled legislation.
Republicans have lambasted Democrats’ efforts to pass healthcare reform, but they have noted that with comfortable majorities in both chambers and control of the White House, Democrats have the ability to pass their legislation.
The problem for Democratic leaders is that centrist Democrats have balked at what has been proposed, threatening to reject the bills if they are brought to the House and Senate floors.
In remarks delivered at the White House Rose Garden before he was scheduled to meet with Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Obama said, "I look forward to meeting with several members of the Congress who are working to pass health insurance reform that will bring down long-term costs, expand coverage and provide more choice."
Earlier in the day, the Energy and Commerce Committee postponed a scheduled markup until Wednesday.
That move, coupled with comments from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday, has triggered widespread speculation on Capitol Hill that the House may not vote on healthcare reform before the August recess.
Hoyer told reporters, "If we get consensus, we'll move on it. If we don't get consensus, I don't think staying in session is necessarily necessary. We'll see. I'll make that decision next week."
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee still hasn’t released its healthcare reform bill, making passage unlikely in the upper chamber anytime soon.
Yet the president said again Tuesday that he is confident he will be able to sign a bill this year. But he did not mention his initial goal of having both the House and Senate pass their respective measures before the recess.
"I can guarantee that when we do pass this bill, history won't record the demands for endless delay or endless debate in the news cycle," Obama said. "They will record the hard work done by members of Congress to pass this bill and the fact that people who sent us here to Washington insisted on change."
He added, "I understand that some will try to delay action until the special interests can kill it, while others will simply focus on scoring political points. We've done that before."