(CNN) – A bill to overhaul the nation's ailing health-care system may not pass until January or later, Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania said Friday.
His comment to CNN affiliate WJPA differed from President Barack Obama's repeated insistence that Congress will pass a health care bill by the end of 2009.
Speaking in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, Murtha said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted a health-care bill passed before the current August recess.
"She said we're going to have it before we left," Murtha said. "We said, 'No, no, we want some time to think about this.' We're taking some time to make sure it's done right. I don't know that we'll get something done before January, and even then we may not get it done. We're going to do it right when it's finally done."
There are deep divides between Democrats and Republicans over the health-care issue, and Murtha said more time is needed to come up with a solution that works.
"We said to the speaker, the leadership, let's not rush this thing," he said. "Let's do it right, so we'll have a uniquely American plan, if the thing passes."
Some town hall meetings on health care have erupted in emotional and angry debate, and Murtha said such a response is natural in uncertain times such as the current economic recession.
"I understand why they're against it - they're worried it's going to harm their health care," he said. "But we're going to work it out."