In it, but not of it. TPM DC

How And When? Health Care Reform Crawls Through Congress

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Newscom / KEVIN DIETSCH

"Don't even ask us to consider passing the Senate bill until the other legislation has passed both houses so that we're sure that it has happened, and that we know that what we would be voting for would be as effected by a reconciliation bill or whatever parliamentary initiative they have at their disposal," Pelosi said yesterday.

That leaves unresolved two major questions: When and how? Last week, both House and Senate leaders said they believed they'd have answers for anxious reformers by the end of this week. But yesterday, they backed away from that self-imposed deadline.

"We hope to be in a position in the near future--don't put me down as to days or number of weeks--to move forward health care," Reid said at his press conference yesterday afternoon.

Senate aides also say there's a potential procedural problem: The Senate rules may not allow the upper chamber to pass a bill which amends legislation that hasn't been signed into law. Yesterday, Reid suggested that the House's powerful Rules Committee gives the lower chamber more leeway to push through legislation than the Senate has. But Pelosi yesterday insisted that objection doesn't meet muster.

"It is not an obstacle to this path forward," she said.