Hoyer: House could leave sans health vote

The House could leave for its August recess without voting on a healthcare overhaul if Democrats can't resolve their conflicts over the shape of the legislation, a top Democrat said Tuesday.

"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," House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). "We'll see. I'll make that decision next week."

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Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats have previously said they intend to pass the bill by July 31, when the House's August recess is scheduled to start.

Hoyer said he still hoped to meet that goal, saying "Our intent is that we consider it next week." But he acknowledged that House Democrats are currently divided on the legislation.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) had a different take on what might happen if House Democrats can't reach consensus. On MSNBC Tuesday, he said that legislators "cannot keep putting this off."

"I have absolutely no problems with us working through the August recess if that's what it takes," Clyburn said. 

But the bill has been bogged down by concerns among centrist Blue Dog Democrats, who say the bill doesn't cut enough costs, and by freshman Democrats, many of whom oppose an income surtax on the wealthy to help pay the cost of the $1 trillion overhaul.

Some members want to wait to see what the more conservative Senate will do, so that members don't have to make tough votes on issues, like taxes, that can't get through the Senate.

This story was updated at 2:30 p.m.