Update--Originally the headline said President Obama was going to Afghanistan. That was a mistake caused by trying to finish the article before hopping on a conference call. Didn't catch it--sorry. Chris Bowers
The White House breaks some news over Twitter:
The President will delay leaving for Indonesia and Australia - will now leave Sunday - the First Lady and the girls will not be on the trip.
The trip will last five days, from March 21st through March 26th. If President Obama is delaying his trip, that strongly implies the House leadership is looking a vote on the Senate health reform bill for next Saturday, March 20th, at the very latest. He is sticking around to sign it into law, so the Senate can take up the reconciliation bill that the House will pass nearly simultaneously. Altogether, this will allow the Senate to take up the reconciliation bill as quickly as possible, and pass it before Latin Easter (Sunday, April 4th)..
If the vote was going to take place after March 20th, then President Obama would actually be better served by leaving on the 18th, and signing the Senate health reform when he returned.
Rumors are still flying that the House Budget Committee will begin marking up (aka, amending, debating, and voting on) the reconciliation fix to the Senate health reform bill on Monday. There is still no confirmation on the Budget Committee's website.
The first draft of the bill appears to be done. It has been presented to the Democratic House caucus, and is awaiting a score from the CBO. The score is expected to appear either today or over the weekend. The Budget Committee won't begin work on the bill until the score is in.
All in all, barring a long delay from the CBO, it looks like the House will wrap up health reform over the next eight or nine days. Do they have the votes? Neither David Dayen nor The Hill have very optimistic looking whip counts. This is going to be an intense eight or nine days.