Washington (CNN) - As President Obama kicks off a health care summit to try and rescue his reform package, three top Democratic sources are privately telling CNN the new goal is to pass the final legislation by the end of March or else Congress will have to move back to other issues like job creation and unfinished spending bills.
The new deadline adds more pressure to the White House negotiations because it gives the president only one month after Thursday's summit to get a final package completed or else he will risk seeing his signature domestic issue go down in flames.
Three Democratic sources familiar with the negotiations say that after a series of missed deadlines last year, the new target is to get a final package completed by Friday March 26, when the House and Senate are scheduled to begin a recess to celebrate Passover and Easter. The House is not scheduled to return from that recess for floor votes again until Tuesday April 13, just seven months before the midterm elections.
The Democratic sources said that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, have privately signaled to the White House that after that recess they will have to move the focus back to jobs and a whole series of other important issues - such as climate change legislation, a financial reform package, and unfinished appropriations bills.
So Democratic leaders have warned the White House that if the health legislation is not finished before the spring recess, it is hard to craft a scenario in which Congress can return to the bill later in the year.
"They would have to move on - they can't let this drag out," said one Democratic source familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the sensitive deliberations.