WASHINGTON (CNN) - A group of fiscally conservative House Democrats announced Wednesday they reached a deal with the chamber's Democratic leaders on a health care reform bill.
Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, speaking for the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, said the agreement calls for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to begin debating the bill later Wednesday, but for no vote by the full House until after the upcoming August congressional recess.
Ross and the Blue Dogs had threatened to derail the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee due to concerns that it cost too much and failed to address systemic problems in the nation's ailing health care industry.
The Energy and Commerce Committee is one of three House committees that needs to pass the bill before it is voted on by the full chamber. The other two committees have already cleared it.
The deal was announced as President Barack Obama hit the road to build more public support for reform, telling a North Carolina audience that a failure to fix the system now will have catastrophic consequences in the years ahead.
If Congress fails to act soon, he warned a Raleigh town hall audience, health costs will double over the next decade, make millions more Americans uninsured, and bankrupt government on both the state and federal level.
The president accused his critics of mischaracterizing his plan as a government takeover of health care.
"No one is talking about some government takeover," he said. "I'm tired of hearing that. ... These folks need to stop scaring everybody."
He also brushed aside criticism that the plan is being rushed through Congress without adequate time for review and debate.
Congressmen will have plenty of time to read the bill, Obama insisted. Noting that Congress won't finish deliberating the legislation until after its August recess, Obama said he'd be willing to invite any representative or senator over to the White House to review the bill "line by line."
The president is slated to make a similar health care pitch later Wednesday to an audience in rural Virginia - a region typically hostile to national Democratic leaders.
Phil Younce, a frozen food clerk at a Kroger supermarket in the town of Bristol, where Obama will speak, told CNN he fears health reform is being rushed, just like the stimulus.
"Like the last package that we pushed through, I think it was too hurried, and a lot of mistakes, a lot of things that shouldn't be," said Younce, who voted for Republican candidate John McCain in the presidential election.
But assistant produce manager Cathy Montgomery, who voted for Obama, said she's excited the president is getting tough with Congress.
"I like the fact that he's stepped up, and he's being aggressive, I really do. I mean, I'm all for that," she said.
Bristol, which is near the Tennessee border, is also where Obama kicked off his general election campaign after defeating Hillary Clinton in the primaries.
Thousands in the area showed up at a health expo offering free medical care over the weekend, exposing a problem all too familiar to doctors in the region.
"Clearly, we all recognize - any physician in the hospital would recognize - that it's a system in crisis," said Dr. Bennett Cowan.
But like most employees at the Kroger supermarket, produce manager Steve Shipplett gets generous health benefits.
Even though he voted for Obama, he's nervous those benefits may be taxed to cover the uninsured. He demanded more specifics from the president.
Obama's "going to have to spit out some numbers and let the public know exactly what it's going to cost them and what they're going to have to give up," he said.
Shipplett added, however, that if the president successfully steps up and sells his plan, then he's willing to step up, too.
"We've got to do something, and if it means me paying these taxes to get this reform through I would begrudgingly do it, yes," he said.
Younce said he is ready to do his share, too.
"No matter what kind of plan you are going to come up with, somebody has to pay for it. So eventually, it comes down to us - the people that's working and paying taxes. We're going to have to pay for it one way or another. I just hope we can come up with a plan that is worth paying for," he said.
- CNN's Dana Bash and Ed Henry contributed to this report.
(Updated at 1:30 p.m. with additional information)
These politicians are so in the pockets to these big corporations that it is scary. They are totally destroying a good bill because the insurance companies are threatening to take money away from them. The American public is in so much trouble. They keep us going at one another with the blue & red, or, dem & rep all so we can't actually see what they are really doing in that Capitol. I am going to demand that every Senator that has recieved money from the insurance companies not be allowed to work nor vote on this bill. Then we will get the foolishness out of the way.
Obama runs marathons not sprints so I hope he is still in controle of this process. At times he appears week and this time it looks like the Blue Dogs are setting the pace. I hope he has a plan to make them eat crow and toe the line. Its funny because the GOP is so in the weeds on this one that the Dems are fighting this out among themselves. For that we can thank how Rank GWB was. W stands for Wrong!
NO! I can not afford one more dime of my money going to taxes. The working people will have no choice but to quit working, the minority of workers can not support the majority that chooses not to work.
We are achin' to hear what the "Red Dogs" of the GOP have to say. Our prediction is that their opinions will veer towards an average Dem's, but human psychology is a thing of beauty.
Blue dog dems my behind. They are republicans in disguise and I hope they suffer in the next election.
Finally! Sanity begins to set in.
Efforts by the GOP to turn down the Health Care Bill, have Failed.
GOP has Failed. All money spent by GOP on commercial ads against the Bill has gone down the gutter.
But still GOP will never learn a lesson.
GOP is defunct, finished, gone.
Bye Bye GOP. :P
Good to hear an agreement could be reached together. Keep up the great work, and let's get these healthcare reforms passed for the American people.
Constituents in all districts need to pay attention to any legislation being discussed and communicate their wishes to directly thier representatives. This is your government; no matter what the letter behind your rep's name. Once elected their job is to represent thier constituents.
Do not let advocacy groups with thier own agenda make decisions for you that you will regret later.
We are achin' to learn what the "Red Dogs" of GOP will have to say about healthcare, among other things. Our prediction-their opinions will wilfully waver and weave towards an average Dem's, but then human psychology is a thing of beauty.
Those people that are anti using the public option fund to pay for abortion need to think twice. Would you be willing to pay health insurance costs and more for those unwanted kids? Abortion is a serious medical procedure. Would you be more willing to pay for the medical consequences without coverage for abortion?
That deal is dead in the water..The house will never ok it as it is. This is only a first draft in a long process folks, so buckle up
I do believe it is the Senate's turn. I hope everything works out. Remember, lobbyist can by a vote in congress, but they can't buy constituents votes! If you fail to produce, we will replace you.
FEEL THE PRESSURE!
p. S. CNN, I am still mad at you
The anti-President Obama nut jobs are getting out of control. Several recent postings on these sites have threatened the life of the President.
Treasonous, anti-American republican terrorists.
Please, move to Texas and secede.
Its not Obama that needs to spit out the numbers, he gave this to Congress to do. He's only just given barely there direction and been criticized for it. Now Congress, give us the details. Let the public decide what they want WITHOUT Republican fear mongering.
No public option, and no rush to vote! :(
It better be including a public option!!!!!
Look out people here comes Social Heath Care.
And the goverment has done such a good job with the other programs they run.
Social Security Down
Post office Layedoff workers.
Be part of the United States just say no to social health care.
Well, there goes the country as we know it.
Americans need to understand that this legislation will begin to control the cost of a commodity in which cost is going up twice the rate of inflation. (health care)
At that rate only the rich will able to afford any health care within twenty years. This is the dirty little secret the GOP doesn't want average americans to know.
That is why the GOP spend's tons of cash to push outright lies and misinforamtion to frighten the elderly and the willfully ignorant
I witnessed a truck weaving back an forth on the road, and when the State Trooper pulled the truck over, the driver was answering email messages and twittering on his Blackberry. This needs to stop. The fine should be $1,000, which will make sure that offending drivers, whether they are in a car or truck, understand the safety issues involved.
IT IS ABOUT TIME MR ROSS AND THE RIDICULOUS BLUE PUPS/.....Pass the bill....WE THE PEOPLE ARE STRUGGLING and you are taking a vacation.........UNBELIEVABLE
I am glad there are some Democrats out there that are actually thinking about the bill and keeping the Obama train honest and on track.
Shame on all the Dems who just said yeah, yeah, sure, sure without engaing their brain. Shame on Obama too for running around glorifying himself while law makers are at work on this.
Always Question Authority – you might agree in the end but Question!
This country is going down because of uneducated people
who can be swayed very easily by republican to believe in all that garbage they put it about health care reform.
I must say voters in third world countries are more smart and educated than us.
Thats what am talking abt! Let the Party Of No keep on screwing their core values as Obama and the rest of AMAERICA CONTINUE TO REVIVE THE ECONOMY AND BRONG CHANGE THAT WE CAN BLV IN.