Key Democrats Summoned To White House Meeting

"The White House summoned two lawmakers critical to President Barack Obama's hopes for health care overhaul to a private meeting Monday as the timetable for a comprehensive bill continued to slip," the Associated Press reports. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. -- both charged with the "crucial job of coming up with how to pay for a comprehensive health care overhaul that would cost an estimated $1 trillion over 10 years" will meet privately with President Obama.

"The White House's strategy to leave the legislative back-and-forth to Congress has produced varying and sometimes contradictory versions of health care legislation -- along with delays. As the Senate turns its attention to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, the focus on that side of the Capitol will turn away from Obama's top domestic priority" (Alonso-Zaldivar and Elliot, 7/13).

ABC News reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will also participate in the closed door meeting (Tapper and Miller, 7/13).

Bloomberg: "The meeting is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m. at the White House, said the aide, who asked not to be identified." Obama said "the administration and Congress are closer 'than we've ever been' to completing the health-care legislation. The president, speaking at the White House, in remarks aimed at critics of his plan, said he is 'under no illusion' about what will be needed to finish the package" (Litvan/ Andersen, 7/13).

In a related story, "The White House on Monday said that President Obama would consider asking Congress to delay the summer break if he hasn't seen sufficient progress on healthcare reform by the August recess," The Hill reports.

Just "Hours after Obama told reporters that he is 'going to get this done,' White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that it is unlikely legislation will be finalized before the recess," stating "I don't think anyone was under the illusion the whole process would be wrapped up by the beginning of August."

"Gibbs said the president would, however, like to see a reform bill pass either or both the House and Senate before members leave, and if they do not the president would consider asking the leadership to delay their vacation" (Youngman, 7/13).

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