Rahm Negotiates With Blue Dogs, Says Bill Could Come Next Week

08/24/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In an interview with NPR, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said that the House could vote on a health care bill next week, despite disagreements with conservative Democrats.

"I can tell you what I know, which is that the speaker today announced to the caucus that their intention is to go next week, and she is working toward that goal," Emanuel said.

The top Obama staffer met for several hours with Blue Dogs on Thursday in a hastily-called negotiating session. "We don't have an agreement, but we continue to talk and that's a good thing," Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), said after the meeting. White House aides were also optimistic that the talks would result in a floor vote for next week.

But differences remain, and some Democrats are ready to give up on negotiation soon. Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) announced that he may let the health care bill bypass his Energy and Commerce Committee, saying there is "no alternative" if Blue Dog Democrats don't accept a deal worked out Friday.

"I won't allow them to hand over control of our committee to Republicans," Waxman told reporters.

Asked about Waxman's suggestion, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told the Huffington Post that he'd prefer at this point to go through the regular committee process.

Emanuel shrugged off Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) comments Wednesday that health care is Obama's "Waterloo" and remarks Thursday by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) that Republicans are plotting the bill's demise on a "week by week" basis.

"At least they're honest about their motivation. Their view about health care is about defeating President Obama," he said. "Politically, I actually appreciate what they said."

"I'm OK with politics, as you well know," Emanuel elaborated. "They're seeing it in political terms, and they've decided that if they can beat the president on health care reform, they've scored a big political victory. But what they've also guaranteed in policy terms is that you have the status quo. I actually appreciate what Senator DeMint said and Senator Inhofe. I'm different than everybody, I'm not going to criticize them. I compliment them. They're honest."

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