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Pelosi Not Afraid’ to Postpone August Recess

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made clear Thursday she is willing to keep the House in session into August to bridge intraparty rifts on health care reform and save an embattled overhaul.

“I’m not afraid of August. It’s a month,— she told reporters.

Pelosi is facing strong dissent within her Caucus about how to proceed on the massive bill and how quickly — the differences of opinion among House Democrats spilled over in a contentious closed-door meeting Thursday morning.

The Speaker downplayed the internal debate about whether to stay or go at the end of next week as “a very small conversation about whether we leave a few days sooner or later.— And she repeated an assertion she made Wednesday that she has the votes to pass the measure, adding she is “more confident than ever.—

But serious challenges remain. Seven conservative Blue Dog Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have stalled progress on the bill until they win concessions on a long list of concerns.

They have support from others for a go-slow approach: Democrats from the Northwest want more time to resolve regional disparities in Medicare reimbursement rates, and Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.) made the case in the Thursday meeting that he wants the August break to sell the package back home before taking a vote, people in attendance said.

Pelosi has strong backing from House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) for postponing the recess if necessary. He argued in the Thursday meeting that Democrats would get no credit for going home without making tough decisions on health care reform first.

“This must work, so we must take the time to listen to our colleagues,— Pelosi said. “We have, and now we’re ready to decide.—