Blue Dogs, White House, and House Leadership Strike a Deal

CNN and The Hill are reporting that House leadership and the White House struck a deal with Energy and Commerce Blue Dogs to allow for E&C mark-up to continue:

In exchange for putting off a floor vote until after Labor Day, the Energy and Commerce Committee may be allowed to continue its markup of the healthcare bill this week even if an agreement has not been reached between committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and seven Energy and Commerce Blue Dogs over the content of the bill.

Asked if House leaders had told Democrats that there will be no House vote on healthcare before Friday, Blue Dog Co-Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) said, “I don’t think [leaders have] made public statements to that regard, but my understanding is that that would be part of an agreement, if they actually do move forward with an Energy and Commerce markup, that there will be no vote on the House floor until after Labor Day.”

I confirmed with a House source that E&C mark-up will resume at 4:00 today, and got some details of the compromise. In addition to postponing the vote on the full bill until after recess, Waxman and the Blue Dogs negotiation a basic outline including raising the small business exemption raised to payrolls of $500,000 or over. It keeps the public option intact, and allows for HHS to negotiate rates for the public option. It keeps consumer protections currently in the bill intact.

The one thing in the agreement that could come back and bite us in the ass later is that it allows states to have the option to set up co-ops. This is in addition to the public option–states will not be allowed to opt out of the public option, and would not be allowed to substitute co-ops for it, but could create them in addition to the public option. It sounds good, but giving any kind of toe-hold to co-ops in the House could be a headache for House negotiators in conference, if the idea can’t be killed in the Senate.

The three committee chairs will work through the August recess to work out a single bill that the House will vote on in September.  Pelosi is expected to announce the new timetable shortly.


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