Legislation to overhaul the nation's health systems is unlikely to make it through the House and Senate before the August target set by President Obama and other Democratic leaders, lawmakers said Sunday.
Democrats and Republicans alike said the administration's sweeping health care proposals are moving forward on Capitol Hill but cautioned against rushing into a spending plan that could costs trillions of dollars over the next decade. Obama's health and human services secretary said she remains optimistic Congress would send the White House legislation before the year ends.
"I think everything is on the table and discussions are under way," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
But the White House's strategy to leave the legislative back-and-forth to Congress has produced varying and sometimes contradictory versions of health care legislation -- along with delays. As the Senate turns its attention to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, the focus will turn away from Obama's top domestic priority.
The administration's Democratic partners in Congress hinted they would not deliver legislation before leaving town for an August recess. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Obama should be pleased with lawmakers' progress; Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said "there really is plenty of time."
The delay would be a blow to the White House and to Democrats' electoral prospects.
The House and Senate are working toward legislation that would deliver on Obama's popular goals from his presidential campaign, but they are hardly in unison. House Democrats have proposed raising taxes on wealthy Americans to pay for the plan. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, have tried to calm moderate and conservative lawmakers about a proposal that could make their re-election bids more difficult.
Republicans, seizing on an issue that affects all Americans and has shown a glimmer for hope for an out-of-power political party, have lambasted the proposals as rash and irresponsible. They also see the issue as a way to win House and Senate seats in the 2010 midterm elections.
Sebelius, Stabenow and Conrad and Gregg appeared on CNN's "State of the Union." Schumer appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press." Kyl appeared on ABC's "This Week."