By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 23, 2009 3:21 PM
Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) confirmed Thursday that the Senate would not pass health-care reform legislation before the August recess.
That the Senate would miss President Obama's Aug. 7 deadline had been obvious for days, if not weeks, as the Finance Committee methodically crafts the one version of the legislation that is expected to gain bipartisan support. But Reid finally made it official, informing reporters that he had granted a request for more time from GOP negotiators.
"I don't think it's unreasonable," Reid said. "This is a complex, difficult issue."
At a separate event, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hedged on the timing question. On Wednesday, she told reporters she had the votes to pass a reform bill next week. The House is scheduled to leave one week earlier than the Senate, on July 31, for its recess.
But today, she left open the possibility of bringing the legislation to the floor in September. "I'm not afraid of August. It's just a month," she said, remaining confident the bill would clear the House eventually. "We will take the bill to the floor when it is ready."
Reid did predict that the Finance Committee would vote on its long-awaited bill before the break begins. Reid said he would spend the month-long recess working with the White House to combine the finance bill with reform legislation approved along party lines by the health committee.
Appearing at a town hall in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Obama acknowledged the delay and said he wanted lawmakers to continuing pushing ahead on the legislation.
"I want the bill to get out of the committees," Obama said. "I want it done by the end of this year."
Of the decision by Reid not to press for an August vote, he added, "that's OK. I just want people to keep on working."