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Democrats Look to Send a Health Compromise to CBO by Friday

Updated: 12:27 p.m.

Democratic leaders hope to reach broad agreement on the health care reform bill by Friday and send it to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring, Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) told reporters Thursday morning.

House leaders met Thursday morning before their Democratic issues conference, being held at the Capitol Visitor Center, and are headed back to the White House for more negotiations at 2:15 p.m. with President Barack Obama on Thursday.

“We’re close,— Rangel said.

Rangel said that union leaders were still negotiating their concerns with an excise tax on high-cost health care plans with Obama, but they are making progress. Unions have been seeking an exemption from the tax, and House Democrats also want it restructured to help protect the middle class.

Rangel declined to discuss the specifics of the compromise under discussion. Obama is scheduled to speak to the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday evening and make a pitch for a bill that is expected to look much more like the $871 billion Senate bill than the $1.2 trillion House measure.

Rangel said that immigration and abortion — two hot-button issues that have divided the party — have not been discussed yet.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said that supporters of abortion rights are working on language they hope will be acceptable to both sides of the debate.

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