Health Talks Break Without Deal

Posted July 23, 2009 at 5:01pm

Updated: 6:41 p.m.Blue Dog Democrats, two White House officials and Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) left a multihour meeting Thursday afternoon in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office without a resolution to the deadlock holding up the party’s $1.6 trillion health care bill.But Pelosi, leaving her office with several Ways and Means Committee Democrats on the way to votes, said the intention is still to have a markup in the Energy and Commerce Committee.“We’re still talking, and that’s a good thing,— said Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), chairman of the Blue Dog health care task force. Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), another lead Blue Dog negotiator on the bill, said he believed talks were done for the night. “We’re moving in the right direction,— he said.Waxman said he had nothing to announce and would not say when, or whether, he expected to return to a markup, which has been delayed now for three straight days. One possible route for fast-tracking the bill and getting it done before the August recess would be to cut a deal with enough Blue Dogs and send the bill to the floor instead of going through additional days of markups.Also in the meeting were White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House health care negotiator Nancy-Ann DeParle.Most other staffers were kept in a hallway, as the negotiators dined on Girl Scout cookies, coffee and San Pellegrino bottled water.