Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus says his panel will not introduce a health-care reform bill before the August recess, NBC's Ken Strickland reports. This forces Majority Leader Harry Reid to push back another timetable for passing a bill. Reid had said publicly he wanted the committee bill passed before Aug. 7. "Nevertheless," Baucus said, "we're as committed, if not more committed, to finding a bipartisan agreement." The announcement comes a day after key Republicans involved in writing the bill complained the process was moving too fast.
"We have not been committed to deadlines," said Republican Chuck Grassley, one of the six bipartisan negotiators. "We've been committed to getting a job done. And that's where we are today. That's where we've been -- Max and I -- for five months. And that's where the six of us have been for the last month."
Video: Have the Blue Dog Democrats fallen for a Republican ruse with their August time out? Newsweek's Howard Fineman discusses the GOP's scary stall tactics.
"House Democratic leaders have developed a coordinated strategy for attacking insurance companies to ward off attacks from opponents of their health care overhaul during the August break, according to a strategy memo obtained by The Hill. 'Our message is simple. It is now being echoed by the White House,' said the memo sent to all Democratic members. 'And it counters the Republican 'government takeover' message.' The message in the memo, though, won't fit on a bumper sticker: 'Remove the insurance companies from between you and your doctor— capping what they can force you to pay in out of pocket expenses, co-pays and deductibles, and giving you the peace of mind you will be covered for the care you need, if get sick, or if you change or lose your job.'"
Politico looks at the pressure Blue Cross-Blue Shield is putting on the Blue Dogs. "President Barack Obama's signature proposal, a public plan option to introduce more competition in private markets, would be significantly weakened, reflecting pressure from Blue Cross-Blue Shield plans that dominate many rural states and that were a source of millions of dollars in campaign contributions last year. The small-business lobby, itself a political powerhouse, carved out a larger exemption for operations earning up to $500,000 annually. At the same time, families are asked to dig deeper to afford the promised coverage to be bought through public exchanges."
"The House on Thursday bucked President Barack Obama's veto threats and overwhelmingly approved a $636 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal 2010. The bill, passed on a 400-30 vote, does meet Obama's demand to cap the F-22 fighter jet program, something he personally lobbied for. But the measure still contains funding for two programs that have drawn veto threats from the administration. In particular, the White House this week threatened to veto the bill over $560 million for an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as well as $485 million for new helicopters to fly the president on short trips from the White House. The Obama administration did not request funding for either program."