House leadership appears to be aiming for Christmas to approve comprehensive healthcare reform, though House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he isn't making any guarantees.
Given the differences between the House and Senate legislation, Hoyer said he would be “shocked” if the chambers didn't participate in a “robust conference” to iron out those differences, such as whether to include a public plan option or a Medicare payment solution for doctors.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) has indicated she would like to get a bill approved in the House by Thanksgiving.
On the bill just approved by the Senate Finance Committee, Hoyer said the crucial vote cast by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) offers “a glimmer” of bipartisan progress in the overall negotiations. Snowe's decision to back the bill indicates “this issue was important enough to move forward,” said Hoyer, who hopes that Republicans in the House “will join (Snowe) in that effort” to pass healthcare reform.
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in the meantime criticized the Senate Finance Committee bill, claiming that “84% of Americans that have insurance will experience an increase in costs” if it's signed into law. Employers will also see costs and their taxes increase under this legislation, Cantor said at a briefing.