House Democrats Reach Health-Care Deal With 'Blue Dogs'

House Energy and Commerce Room AP Photo/Susan Walsh

A copy of H.R. 3200, America Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 sits on the desk of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., after the markup on the health care bill was postponed on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 29, 2009. Susan Walsh/AP Photo hide caption

itoggle caption Susan Walsh/AP Photo

There's word from Capitol Hill that Democrats have worked out some of their differences on health care overhaul legislation, with enough Blue Dog Democrats now willing to allow a bill to move through the critical House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Blue Dogs, a group of moderate and conservative House Democrats, had created a logjam in the House by refusing to sign on to legislation. Among their concerns: that the overhaul would cost too much, further exploding federal deficits.

As the Associated Press reports:

Four of the seven so-called Blue Dog Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said they resolved their differences with Chairman Henry Waxman of California. The lawmakers also had been meeting with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

At the same time, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the Democrat leading the negotiations among three Democrats and three Republicans, said new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show the plan that's taking shape would cover 95 percent of Americans by 2015, and cost about $900 billion over 10 years - under the unofficial $1 trillion target the White House has set.

NPR's Julie Rovner, in her report for the network's newscast, said:

ROVNER: The bigger breakthrough came in the House, where a group of fiscal conservatives known as 'blue dogs' reached a deal that's likely to get a bill through the third of three committees. That would, in turn, clear the way for a floor vote in September, when lawmakers return from their summer break.

Update at 3:45 p.m. ET: NPR's Scott Horsley reports that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters a short time ago that "the president is enormously thankful" to lawmakers for their efforts.

"We are making progress," Gibbs added.

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