Congressional Democrats directly told White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel they don't appreciate being told when to finish their work on healthcare reform, according to a powerful committee chairman.

"He was certainly informed that we don't feel we want any deadlines assigned to us," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said after a healthcare strategy meeting between House and Senate Democratic leaders and Emanuel.

Democratic leaders, struggling with a difficult political climate, having trouble whipping up a majority in the House and facing considerable procedural hurdles, have been rankled by statements from White House officials such as press secretary Robert Gibbs that President Barack Obama at least wants the House to complete its share of the work by March 18, when the president is scheduled to travel to Guam, Indonesia and Australia.

During the Tuesday afternoon meeting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office, lawmakers made sure to raise their concerns with the president's top aide. "He said he'd pass it on," Waxman said.

Earlier Tuesday House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) pushed back on the proposed deadline, telling reporters, “None of us has mentioned the 18th other than Mr. Gibbs.” Gibbs lated acknowledged there is a "disconnect" between the White House and Capitol Hill about the deadline.