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Pelosi, at White House, Says Negotiators ‘Very Close’ on Health Care Deal

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that negotiators are “very close— to reconciling House and Senate health care reform bills, but she declined to say when she thought the legislation might move to the floor.Pelosi spoke outside the White House following what she described as a “very productive— two-hour meeting with President Barack Obama and the chairmen of the House committees handling the legislation: Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).On Tuesday, Hill and White House staffers worked intensively on the legislation.“I think we’re very close to reconciliation, respectful of the challenges — policy and otherwise — in the House and in the Senate,— Pelosi said. But she declined to say whether she thought the legislation would be passed by the end of the month.“It’s possible,— she said. “We will bring the bills to the floor when we are ready, and hopefully that will be soon.—The session followed a Tuesday evening White House meeting between Obama, Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Durbin and Reid participated by telephone.Pelosi declared that the final product must meet the “Triple A Test,— saying she must be satisfied that it is “affordable, holds the insurance companies accountable, and gives access to all American to quality health care at lower costs.—Pelosi lauded Obama, who has been criticized in some quarters for not taking a more active part in the process until now, for the role he has played.“We would not be at the historic moment without the leadership of President Obama,— she said.Rangel told Roll Call that Obama did not get too far into the weeds of the legislation, but focused instead on the “broad outlines— of the measure.“He knew exactly what our problems were,— Rangel said.

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