Pelosi may hold House back from recess

The speaker says she might keep the chamber in session to get healthcare reform done

Published July 22, 2009 8:05PM (EDT)

The men and women who lead Congress always come in for a lot of criticism. But it's important to cut them a little slack sometimes -- herding cats must seem like a vacation after trying to organize all those raging egos and competing interests. Fortunately for her, though, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows at least one way to make her chamber's members pay attention: Threaten their vacations.

Congress is scheduled to go into a traditional August recess next month. It's a time for vacations, of course, but also for all the members to go back to their districts so they can press some flesh and raise some money. (That's especially handy in election years, but still important now.)

At a press conference on Wednesday, though, Pelosi said she's open to the idea of keeping the House in session during recess in order to get healthcare reform legislation passed.

"I think 70 percent of the American people would want that," the speaker said. "I want a bill."

As The Hill notes, Pelosi might already have a fight on her hands there -- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday he doesn't think there'll be any point in remaining in session if a bill hasn't been worked out by then.

Update: Meanwhile, in the Senate, the hopes for a vote before the recess appear to be fading.

“We’re going to take a little longer to get it right,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin told The Hill. “Initially we had hoped for a full vote by then, but I don’t think it’s going to be possible.”

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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