House Dems To Hold Five Hour, Closed Door Health Care Meeting

A scan of the congressional bulletin board on Monday finds business much as usual in the Capitol: A pen and pad briefing with Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) at 3:30; Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders holding a news conference about health care reform at 3:45; and a closed Democratic caucus meeting at 4.

Until 9.

There’s no typo on the bulletin board. House Democrats plan to huddle behind closed doors to go over health care reform legislation section by section Monday afternoon and evening. A closed door, of course, doesn’t mean that much on Capitol Hill, where members of Congress BlackBerry minute-to-minute updates to reporters in the hall outside.

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, explained in a statement: “This in-depth look at the bill is another step in our efforts to keep our members informed and educated on this important topic. Democrats in the House have already held 10 Caucus meetings on health care, 79 hearings on health care reform, 550 town hall events in their districts about health care, and three House Committees have heard 45 hours of debate and amendments on our health care reform legislation. The American people have been waiting 75 years for us to get this done.”

Pelosi is racing to complete the reform legislation before the House goes into recess until September, while conservative Democrats work just as hard to slow the process down. Friday saw a day of rancorous intraparty debate that descended into accusations of unfaithful negotiating before a truce was announced in the evening.

At her news conference before the caucus, Pelosi highlighted the benefits to each congressional district that could come from passage of health care reform.

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