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Congress: Let's make a deal

NBC's Luke Russert reports from the House side on Capitol Hill about the progress toward a deal on health care yesterday. There will most likely be a committee vote by Friday. But it's important to note that yesterday's agreement was not between the Blue Dogs and the Leadership; it was between four of the seven Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee -- Hill, Space, Ross and Gordon -- and the chairman of that committee, Henry Waxman. At this point we don't know if all Blue Dogs will support health-care reform.
 
Here are the main parts of the agreement from yesterday:
1. it reduces the cost of the bill to below $1 trillion.
2. it adjusts the public option to make it have to negotiate rates just like private insurance companies do.
3. it removes 86% of "small businesses" from an employer mandate.
4. and it pushes a floor vote on the bill until September.
 
And there is more hedging on the language for a public option: "We are saying that there will be language that establishes state-run co-ops as an option," Blue Dog leader Mike Ross said. "It would just give consumers another choice… The public option is optional it gives consumers choices it is not mandated on any of them. The public option will be required to negotiate with providers just like private insurers so we will have a level playing field."

Video: Many conservatives feel health care proposals are being rushed and were hoping Blue Dog Democrats would take their side. Rep. Mike Pence, D-Ind., discusses whether the Blue Dogs' decision to negotiate with Democratic leaders may hurt the prospect of a bipartisan health care bill.

Politico says of the development: "After weeks of infighting and negative headlines, Democrats finally found a little momentum on health care as negotiators broke a critical logjam in the House and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office delivered a rare piece of good news in the Senate."

But liberals are outraged. The House deals sparked "threats of rebellion from the left." And: "Liberals aimed to win 50 signatures on a letter to their leaders opposing the deal to make it clear they could defeat the healthcare bill on the floor."

On the Senate side… "Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told Hawkeye State reporters Wednesday that bipartisan health care negotiators are making progress on a reform bill, but cautioned that some of the most difficult issues have yet to be resolved," Roll Call reports.

"Rep. Pete Sessions -- the chief of the Republicans' campaign arm in the House -- says on his website that earmarks have become 'a symbol of a broken Washington to the American people,'" Politico reports. "Yet in 2008, Sessions himself steered a $1.6 million earmark for dirigible research to an Illinois company whose president acknowledges having no experience in government contracting, let alone in building blimps. What the company did have: the help of Adrian Plesha, a former Sessions aide with a criminal record who has made more than $446,000 lobbying on its behalf."