Healthcare 'still on schedule'; bill coming Tuesday

House Democrats will introduce their full healthcare reform bill Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday while acknowledging she has much work left to do to win over members of her own caucus.

"We’re still on schedule. We have plans to vote for this legislation before we leave for the August recess," Pelosi said at a news conference. Pelosi said, however, that the bill to be unveiled would have to undergo further changes during committee markup to garner enough support among Democrats. "It is just the beginning," she said.

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"It won’t be the finished product," Pelosi said. "In order for us to be on schedule, we have to roll out legislation this week."

But even a Tuesday introduction, to be followed by possible committee action beginning before week's end, represents a slight setback to the House Democratic leadership's ambitious goal of passing a healthcare reform bill before the lower chamber departs for its summer recess on July 31.

House Democrats were supposed to introduce a complete draft of the bill on Friday but postponed their plans amid a furor raised by centrist Democrats, who offered Pelosi and the chairmen a list of complaints, including that the measure did not go far enough to reduce the cost of healthcare. Pelosi sat down with members of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition on Thursday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and the chairmen of the Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor committees met with Blue Dog Democrats on Friday as committee staff worked that day and throughout the weekend to make changes to the bill.

If the bill is introduced as planned on Tuesday, the three panels could begin marking up and amending it before the end of the week, a House Democratic leadership aide said.

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