Hoyer, Reid move to finish healthcare reform legislation before the end of 2009

Hoyer, Reid move to finish healthcare reform legislation before the end of 2009

The House could be in session until nearly Christmas Eve to try to win final passage on a healthcare bill.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) outlined the new schedule on Wednesday, saying he is prepared to keep the House working until Dec. 22 in order to pass the keystone issue of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaModerate or left of center — which is better for Democrats in 2020? Obama: Countries facing severe effects of climate change offer 'moral call to rest of the world' Democrats' self-inflicted diversity vulnerability MORE’s first year in office.

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Hoyer’s move follows Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidNevada journalist: Harry Reid will play 'significant role' in Democratic primary The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached MORE’s (D-Nev.) decision late Tuesday night to file a motion that could allow the Senate to begin debate on healthcare next week.

The actions by Reid and Hoyer appear designed to meet a goal of sending a healthcare bill to Obama’s desk by the end of the year, though that task will be difficult given divisions among Democrats in both chambers. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Media organization fights Trump administration over Ukraine documents FOIA Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers MORE and Obama himself have recently touted the year-end deadline.

Hoyer said the House would be in session for the first three weeks of December, but that could be extended to the week of Christmas.

“The House could also be in session on Monday, Dec. 21, and Tuesday, Dec. 22, if needed,” Hoyer said in a statement.

“As action on health insurance reform legislation moves to the Senate, the House is updating its schedule for November and December to reflect that, and to ensure there is time to complete our work on other important issues,” Hoyer said.

Late on Tuesday, Reid filed a motion to introduce the Senate healthcare bill on Monday, Nov. 16. Anticipating a Republican objection, the bill would be pushed onto the Senate calendar.

Reid’s action sets up a critical vote next week on a motion to proceed to the bill. Such a motion would require 60 votes to succeed — an important early test of the Democratic caucus’s unity on procedural votes.

It is uncertain whether several senators who caucus as Democrats, including Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), will support Reid on procedural motions that require 60 votes.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' McConnell: Bevin pardons 'completely inappropriate' House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal MORE (Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John CornynJohn CornynTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn On The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal On The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA MORE (Texas) have warned Democrats that they will target any senators who support procedural votes on the bill, and McConnell has indicated he’ll do everything possible to slow the healthcare bill’s movement.

The Senate’s healthcare bill is awaiting a cost analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, which senior Democratic aides expect by the end of this week. But Reid signaled Tuesday he may start the process before he has the CBO score.

The House passed its healthcare reform bill in a tight 220-215 vote late Saturday night, setting up the action in the Senate. But the way in which the bill was approved has exposed new fissures in the Democratic caucus over the hot-button issue of abortion.

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Hoyer, Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders lobbied their members furiously to win the vote, and were only successful after they consented to a vote on an amendment that strictly forbids subsidies from being used to pay for abortions.

Republicans joined 64 Democrats in supporting the amendment, and its inclusion provided the healthcare bill the necessary support to squeak through the House.

But abortion-rights supporters in the House now warn they will not back a conference report on healthcare if the abortion language is not removed. They say the language will prevent women who buy private insurance from being covered for abortions.

Interest groups have also weighed in, running pressure ads against lawmakers who voted for the abortion amendment. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched online ads Wednesday against Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the sponsor of the amendment.

Liberal interest groups have also weighed in to pressure Democratic senators who may not vote with their party on procedural motions.

The BlueAmerican Political Action Committee on Wednesday said it would air television ads calling on Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) to vote with Democrats on procedural healthcare votes.