Gibbs says March 18 deadline is doable


Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) downplayed that deadline earlier Tuesday, saying that "none of us has mentioned the 18th other than Mr. Gibbs."

Gibbs said the deadline came from conversations from presidential aides who are in contact with Congress, and there has been no new information "that leads us to believe that March 18th is not a doable date."

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Gibbs said that by briefing time Tuesday afternoon he "got no better guidance on what Mr. Hoyer is saying today."

President Barack Obama is scheduled to leave the country for Guam, Indonesia and Australia on March 18, and Gibbs said the White House is planning to stick to that schedule.

Obama is scheduled to fly to St. Louis on Wednesday to continue to press for healthcare reform. He held a similar event outside of Philadelphia on Monday.

Gibbs said Obama will meet with lawmakers later in the week, and he rejected the idea that the president should be in Washington pressing for votes instead of taking his case on the road.

"We've got phones that work quite well on Air Force One," Gibbs said.