Gibbs backs off Mar 18 deadline, indicates Obama may delay trip

Jon Ward Contributor

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday backed off the March 18 deadline for a House vote on a health care bill that he had set last week and repeated this week.

But Gibbs also did not directly answer questions about whether President Obama will delay, by a day or two, his trip to southeast Asia. He is scheduled to leave on the 18th for the week-long trip.

“Our hope is to get this done as soon as possible. If it takes a couple extra days after a year, it takes a couple of extra days,” Gibbs said, when asked about the 18th.

The March 18th deadline had been rejected by numerous House Democrats over the last few days.

When asked about delaying the trip, Gibbs did not answer but indicated that news might be forthcoming.

“If we have any changes in the schedule, we’ll certainly let you know, but the President believes it is an extremely important trip,” he said. “I don’t have any updates for you right now on the trip, except to say the President is going on that trip.”