Van Hollen: Senate may need to 'pull the plug' on talks

Senate leaders may need to "pull the plug" on bipartisan negotiations on healthcare reform legislation, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Monday.

Van Hollen, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and assistant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), indicated that the still-unresolved negotiations before the Senate Finance Committee may have to be abandoned.

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"What concerns me about what's happened in the Senate Finance Committee is that they've had a whole lot of time to work these things out, and just don't seem to be able to break the impasse," Van Hollen said in an interview on the liberal "Bill Press Radio Show." "It doesn't seem to be as much about a disagreement over policy issues, and it seems more to be just the lack of the political will on behalf of some to get it done."

Van Hollen blamed the committee's slow work on Republicans, whom he asserted were unwilling to make the needed "tough decisions" to craft a healthcare bill.

"At some point that's going to have to happen, and the question is when do you reach that breaking point?" the Maryland Democrat said when asked if Senate Democrats should end negotiations. "At some point they're going to have to pull the plug on that process, and when they do that is something they're in a better position to know."

Van Hollen also blamed the Finance Committee for House Democrats' difficulty in passing a preliminary healthcare reform bill.

"A lot of our members in the House want to see not what the full Senate does, but at least what the Senate Finance Committee moves forward," he said. "The reality is, a lot of our members want them to at least show their hand a little bit before we ask them to make some very tough decisions."

The assistant to the Speaker said that he was hopeful the House would resolve differences between centrists and leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the next few days, adding that negotiations are "back on track" after Blue Dogs and committee leaders agreed to "ratchet down the heat."

He also signaled that Pelosi may make the House work through the August recess if the Speaker thinks she can successfully bring a bill up for a floor vote.

Listen to the whole interview here.