Ken Vogel and I write today:
Congress’s failure to deliver major health care legislation by President Barack Obama’s deadline next month transforms the traditionally sleepy August recess into what could be the decisive moment in the battle to win support for the legislation, especially from conservative Democrats considered crucial to its fate.
The recess, scheduled to begin August 7, will put to the test Obama’s vaunted, high tech political machine and the coordinated network of progressive groups that has been quietly preparing for months for this battle. They face, on the other side, a bruised Republican camp hoping to revive itself through a winning campaign against their opponents’ top priority.
That has made what was supposed to be a respite from the hand-to-hand combat of Washington politics into, perhaps, the most crucial month of Obama’s first year. And it will bring the battle over key elements of health care reform into dozens of targeted congressional districts.
"The hot days of August are going to be a critical time for every member of Congress," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat charged with getting his colleagues re-elected next year as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. You don’t want to create a political vacuum when you leave Washington."