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Kai Ryssdal: If you’ve spent any time at all in or around Washington D.C., you know it’s not the most agreeable place to be in late summertime. High heat and high humidity combine to make it exceptionally unpleasant, which is why Congress begins its annual August recess tomorrow. The House goes home Friday. The Senate sticks it out for another whole week. They will leave behind some unfinished business.
First on the list, of course, the pending health-care bill. Or rather, bills, in plurual. Cause our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reminds us that for all the claims of progress, there’s still some heavy-duty lawmaking to be done this fall.
JOHN DIMSDALE: Health-care legislation may be behind schedule, but it is moving. In the House, Blue Dog Democrats yesterday signed onto a compromise that reduces the overall cost of the package and keeps a public option for those who don’t have insurance.
That deal allowed the Energy and Commerce committee to take up amendments today. Republicans oppose the tax increases on Americans earning over $350,00 a year. Joe Barton of Texas tried to raise that threshold.
JOE BARTON: So this is the million dollar taxpayer protection amendment, those that make less than a million dollars.
But newly unified Democrats defeated the amendment. New Jersey’s Frank Pallone said the extra taxes on the wealthy would be less than 1 percent of their annual income.
FRANK PALLONE: I don’t think that’s much of a contribution when you’re going to cover all these people who have no insurance.
Progress on the Senate side awaits intense negotiations by six Senators, three from each party, who are trying to do away with the government option altogether. In the end, reform advocate Alan Garber of Stanford University expects something will pass, but he worries it will be watered down.
ALAN GARBER: The battle being fought right now is whether we simply have a reform that extends coverage that’s pretty much like what we have now to all Americans and will be extremely expensive. Or if we’re going to take a really deep look at what’s wrong with the system and fix it.
He says getting that to the president’s desk by the end of the year will take a lot of political will.
In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.
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