- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

EXCLUSIVE:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bypass the committee working on the chamber’s health-care reform bill and put the legislation to a full floor vote by next week, Rep. Tom Price said Friday.

“My sense as of last night is her plan is now to bring the bill to the floor,” said Mr. Price, a Georgia Republican and orthopedic doctor. He spoke on The Washington Times “America’s Morning News” radio show. “We’ve witnessed some remarkable conversations and discussions between the speaker and others that leads me to believe she’s going to pull a power play.”

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, participated in a three-hour meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill in which she and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel tried to negotiate with fiscally conservative Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where work on the bill has stopped.

The Democrats, known as Blue Dogs, want changes to the legislation and are particularly concerned about its cost of roughly $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

“The White House woodshed is getting a lot of use,” Mr. Price, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of House conservatives.

Mrs. Pelosi did not say after the meeting Thursday afternoon that she intends to sidestep the committee and Chairman Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat who also participated in the negotiations.

“We will take the bill to the floor when it is ready, and when it is ready, we will have the votes to pass it,” she said. Mrs. Pelosi said she had “a very small conversation about whether we leave a few days sooner or later.”

The speaker also was noncommittal about whether she intends clip the August recess to get the bill done. A male staffer at Mrs. Pelosi’s office said on Friday morning that her plans to sidestep the committee is only a rumor.

The Democrat-controlled Congress is trying to reach a full floor vote before its August recess to meet President Obama’s ambitious plan to sign legislation this year that will overhaul the U.S. health-care system by providing insurance to 97 percent of Americans and reducing rising medical costs.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said the chamber would not vote on health-care reform before the recess begins on Aug. 8.

“It’s a complex, difficult issue,” he said. “I think it’s better to have a product that is one based on quality and thoughtfulness, rather than pushing something through.”

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