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Health Reform by August? Looking Less Likely « The Washington Independent

On the surface, Senate Democratic leaders remain insistent that they can pass their plan for comprehensive health care reform by the end-of-summer Congressional recess, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 7. But the rumblings around Capitol Hill are starting to anticipate a different reality.

As Roll Call (subscription) reported today, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who’s leading the Democrats’ health care efforts in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told reporters last week that the August timeline for Senate floor passage isn’t likely.

Rather, Dodd indicated, the goal is to complete the tricky merger of the HELP and Finance Committee bills, with the floor fracas over a final bill put off until after Labor Day.

“One step at a time,” Dodd said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. “This is a long process.”

Dodd has some recent experience with legislative delays: It was his credit card reform bill that was tied up for a few extra weeks as Republicans stalled the process with a series of amendments — including the successful push to allow loaded weapons in the national parks. And that was a much easier sell politically than any health reform bill will surely be.

Indeed, the more accurate prediction of the length of this battle might have come from Sen. John Barrasso today. “I can tell you,” the Wyoming Republican told Fox News, “it’s not going to happen in August.”

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