House Leaders Mum on Legislative Delays

With time running out before Congress leaves for its Memorial Day recess, House Democratic leaders still do not appear to have a legislative solution for two items left on their docket.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., remained vague about the status of an "extenders bill" that the House is trying to pass before leaving for their Memorial Day recess. The bill would extend through 2010 tax cuts and social spending set to expire next week.

It also includes the so-called "doctor fix" that deals with reimbursement rates to doctors through Medicare.

Though a final price tag for the package is still unclear -- it's been estimated by some at nearly $200 billion -- critics, including many fiscally conservative Democrats, say that the bill spends too much and that only part of the total cost is paid by other means than borrowing.

Pelosi on Wednesday would only say that "it's possible" the bill would reach the floor by the end of the day. Hoyer said his "expectation is to put it on the floor shortly."

Neither offered an explanation why the bill has not yet come up for a vote.

Lawmakers also expressed a lack of certainty on how to deal with extending the doc fix. Hoyer said that it had been an issue with the government health care program for seniors since 1998.

"It is an issue apart from the current health care law," Hoyer said, "and we will continue to work until it is permanently fixed."