Republicans immediately attacked the deal and accused fiscally conservative Democrats of compromising their principles in the face of political pressure.
“It is a raw deal for the American people, and, sadly, it proves once again that the so-called ‘Blue Dogs’ have no bite when they’re forced to choose between their constituents and the radical leadership of their party,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.
Mr. Waxman and the 52-member Blue Dog caucus were at loggerheads over key parts of the bill, including its impact on the federal deficit and its burden on small businesses and rural areas.
The four Blue Dogs who signed on to the deal were part of a bloc of seven on the energy panel who had been balking at the bill. They stressed that the deal did not guarantee that the entire caucus would vote for the final House bill.
With few House Republicans expected to support the bill, House Democratic leaders could not afford too many defections in their own ranks.
Two other House committees have completed work on portions of the massive draft, while work also continues in the Senate.
Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Louisiana Blue Dog who is not part of the deal, said he still has reservations.
“We need to do some additional reform” in the bill, he said, including new regulations on health insurance companies.
He said that the decision by the four Blue Dogs to vote for the bill did not signal a division in the group.
“We all have to deal with our own politics and our own constituency,” he said.
There were also signs of progress in the Senate as a bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to negotiate a health care reform plan revealed that the Congressional Budget Office estimates their proposal would cost $900 billion over 10 years - less than the White House mandate for a $1 trillion plan.
The draft bill, which is based on tentative agreements, would be fully paid for and reduce the federal deficit in the 10th year, said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat. Negotiators reported progress but were not ready to announce a formal deal Wednesday.
“The current draft does not include resolution of several key issues,” Mr. Baucus said. “Nevertheless, the report is encouraging.”
But the progress overall was difficult to gauge, with the Senate Finance Committee warning earlier in the day that there an imminent accord on all issues was unlikely.
Sens. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, and Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, said the CBO “scoring” is based on tentative agreements that are likely to change.