More delays in House on healthcare reform

The House Energy and Commerce Committee canceled its healthcare markup session again Thursday, further dimming hopes that the House can complete its work before the August recess is scheduled to begin.

The committee began its drafting sessions on Friday and Monday. But they were canceled in the following days as Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) negotiated with Blue Dog Democrats, who've complained the bill doesn't cut enough costs and puts too great a burden on employers.

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House leaders have pledged to give lawmakers two days to read the final bill before any consideration on the House floor, so the bill would have to be completed by Wednesday in order to be voted on before the House is scheduled to adjourn on July 31.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have differed on what to do if the bill isn't ready for a vote by the Friday deadline. Hoyer has indicated there is no point in staying. Pelosi has indicated the House would work into August.

Further complicating the matter, the Senate will not be voting on healthcare reform before the August recess, as initially planned.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Wednesday told The Hill, “We’re going to take a little longer to get it right. Initially we had hoped for a full vote by [the recess], but I don’t think it’s going to be possible.”

Democratic lawmakers in the House may prove reluctant to act if the Senate doesn’t schedule a vote as well.