House Panel Breaks Health-Care Deadlock

Liberal and conservative Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce panel struck a deal today to cut billions from existing government-funded health-care programs in order to give an estimated $50-65 billion in subsidies to middle-class families, helping them to purchase coverage. (Meanwhile, in the Senate, officials set a September 15 deadline for bipartisan agreement on a healthcare bill.) The Energy and Commerce committee was the last of the three House committees to review the bill, meaning that after the 5-week August recess, party-leaders will debate the bill in Congress in the fall. The bill also includes an amendment reducing premiums on households from 12 percent of total annual income to 11 percent. The agreement between liberals and the conservative Blue Dog Democrats ends the two-week deadlock on health-care that could have prevented Congress from meeting President Obama's deadline. Still, there is a ways to go: "This is one step in a long and complex legislative process," said Ohio Rep. Zack Space, a Blue Dog on the committee.