Centrist Dem Leader: Has Committee Votes To Block Health Bill
By Martin Vaughan, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., a leader of fiscally conservative House Democrats, said Wednesday a House plan to overhaul the U.S. health-care system is losing support and will be stuck in committee without changes.
"Last time I checked, it takes seven Democrats to stop a bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee," Ross told reporters after a House vote. "We had seven against it last Friday; we have 10 today."
Three House committees are slated to begin considering the $1 trillion-plus bill this week, but the Energy and Commerce looms as the biggest challenge. That's because it counts among its 36 Democratic members seven members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a fiscally conservative bloc that is opposing the House Democrats' effort.
Ross said the bill, introduced Wednesday by House Democratic leaders, doesn't include provisions adequate to curb rising health care costs, including what the government spends on healthcare.
"The current bill would have to be substantially amended before we could consider supporting it," Ross said.
The Energy and Commerce panel is scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon to kick off its review of the legislation, but its session is expected to stretch into late next week.
Ross said Blue Dogs have been meeting every day to craft amendments that will be offered during that meeting, but offered no details on what those amendments are. He said those amendments could number in the dozens.
Ross said he expects Blue Dogs will meet with the panel's chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., soon to discuss their specific proposed changes.
-By Martin Vaughan, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9244; martin.vaughan@ dowjones.com