January 5th, 2010
10:28 AM ET
4 years ago

Obama and top Dems meet on health care

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will team up with the top Democrats in Congress late Tuesday afternoon to discuss heath care reform strategy.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will team up with the top Democrats in Congress late Tuesday afternoon to discuss heath care reform strategy.

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will team up with the top Democrats in Congress late Tuesday afternoon to discuss heath care reform strategy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will meet with Obama and Biden in person in the Oval Office, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin will join by telephone. The White House confirms that the meeting will focus on the Democrats drive for health care reform, as well as other legislative priorities.

"The purpose of this meeting is to get everyone back in step after a well-deserved holiday break. The President and the Leaders will discuss the path forward on health care, but other topics and priorities for 2010 will also be on the agenda," a White House official told CNN.

The House passed its health care reform bill on November 7, and the Senate passed its own version on Christmas Eve. Now comes the tough task of merging the two bills into one piece of legislation. The bills differ in many ways, most importantly over the creation of a new government-run public health insurance option, anti-abortion funding provisions, anti-illegal immigration provisions, the costs of the bills, and how they are funded. (View a comparison of the two bills [PDF])

The Democrats in the the Senate, needing all 60 votes in their coalition to pass the bill, have basically no margin for error.  Several moderate members of that coalition who voted for the bill last month, including Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, say any major changes to the Senate legislation could force them to vote against the final merged bill with the House.

Senior Democratic sources say a formal House-Senate conference committee is unlikely because of the Republicans' ability to slow the process in the Senate. In order to hold a formal conference, conferees - members of the House and Senate - must be formally appointed by both bodies, with resolutions passed by both the Senate and the House. One Democratic leadership aide says getting those resolutions passed could delay and even derail Democratic efforts, because Republicans would be allowed to offer amendments and hold lengthy debates on the resolutions to appoint conferees. For that reason, several Democratic sources say they will probably hold informal, high level House-Senate negotiations to hash out differences on health care legislation, without holding a formal conference. Though these sources stress that no formal decision has been made.

Beyond the mechanics of House and Senate negotiations, the Democrats' timetable for finding agreement and getting a final bill to President Obama remains murky. Several Democratic sources say they hope to get a bill to the president's desk by early February, around the time of his State of the Union address, which has yet to be formally scheduled. But Speaker Pelosi already admitted last month that this deadline could slip, and both House and Senate Democratic leadership aides stressed to CNN that while leaders want to move forward as soon as possible, "there is no hard and fast deadline."

– CNN's Dana Bash, Deirdre Walsh, Suzanne Malveaux and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. barbara

    I am very afraid for this nation. There will be civil unrest the likes that we have never seen before. It will happen because americans are faced with the real possibility that they will lose their freedoms/liberties and their property. I am very afraid. very afraid.

    January 5, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. sandy

    We need and want a public option and if the Dems are to cowardly to fight for it, then they do not have my vote in 2010.

    January 5, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. all the news that's fit to omit

    They will not even have FELLOW democrats involved in the bill if there is a chance they may want to add or delete something, let along TORT reform or buying across state lines which would open up REAL competition.

    What happened to C-SPAN Barry, is that like the other lies about people making less than 250,000 not "paying one single penny in additional taxes" when this very bill is LOADED with such taxes.

    What a bleeping, lying fraud of a coward this "person you selected" is, I am disgusted with this whole process and administration.

    January 5, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. Bren

    I guess that sleazy, Chicago politics tactics of closed-room deals, bribes, threats, discussions, etc-– are now fair game in Washington, based on the actions of Democrats.

    Therefore, nobody should be surprised or complain (including the media)-–when Republicans begin to do the same thing, once they regain power/control through the 2010 and 2012 elections.

    This is UNBELIEVABLE!!! I hope that the Republicans still have their attorneys investiagating every part of this health care disaster--and find a way to stop it.

    January 5, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. mark

    "That's what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are," Obama said at a debate against Hillary Clinton in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2008. – LIAR

    January 5, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    "I am very afraid for this nation. There will be civil unrest the likes that we have never seen before. It will happen because americans are faced with the real possibility that they will lose their freedoms/liberties and their property. I am very afraid. very afraid."

    Hmmm... Paranoid much? Why don't you try thinking for yourself instead of listening to the corporate fear mongers. You'll live a longer and happier life. ;) Have a nice day!

    January 5, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Clay

    We, the People, demanded a public option and both Reid and Pelosi, along with the entire republican party, opted to take the cash and run instead. All politicians are pathetic crooks.

    January 5, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. obama the liar

    just can't see going to work and haveing to look at those two mugs everyday...brutal

    January 5, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. gt

    reid is gutless... we want the public opion,,, nit wit nancy has every one hating her so she cant get anything done,,, two loosers,, we need people who can get things done for the people... health care now,,

    January 5, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. LacrosseSon

    I guess it's now up to SCOTUS to save us from this ill-conceived legislation. The upside is this might just be the impetus needed to boot the dems out of power in November.

    I think my mom must have done too much partying back in the 60's.

    January 5, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    "They will not even have FELLOW democrats involved in the bill if there is a chance they may want to add or delete something, let along TORT reform or buying across state lines which would open up REAL competition."

    For the umpteenth time: tort reform has been tried and hasn't lowered costs. Buying across state lines would allow the insurance companies to move to states with the least regulations ala credit card companies in Delaware. Hope this helps. ;) Have a nice day!

    January 5, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    get us fair health care and don't even listen to the republican lie machine :)

    January 5, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Mlhall

    we need Health Care with Public Option.

    January 5, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Paul from Phoenix

    What happened to the campaign promise of holding all health care meetings on CSPAN?

    Yet another promise broken.

    January 5, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    You cannot work across the aisle when idiots like Judd Gregg and Jim DeMint have promised they will obstruct reform at every step, and make sure there is no bill. Screw the worthless republicans and move forward.

    January 5, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. VON BISMARK -Vienna

    The Dems should have done this long before.They should never expect any GOP co-operation.

    January 5, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. Will in Carson City

    You know, I really hate the argument about so many people dying because they don't have access to health care. Does anyone see the fallacy in that argument? For one, EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE, already has access to receiving health care. It's just those that don't have health INSURANCE - big difference from not having access to the care and not having the ability to pay.

    Second, and I'm going out on a limb here, but I really, REALLY doubt that the reason 45,000 (or whatever the new number is) people died in any year as a result of not having health insurance (since that's what the argument really is). I could have sworn that the illness/disease/cancer/whatever had something to do with it. But that wouldn't sound as good for the talking heads, would it? Which sounds better so that they can get their point across - 45,000 people died from H1N1 or 45,000 people died because they didn't have health insurance?

    January 5, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. jjheinis

    Just implement health care reform and join the ranks of the remainder of the industrialized world. We Americans owe this to ourselves. With this done, we can work on becoming competitive with the rest of the industrialized world.

    January 5, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Billy J..Texas..

    Although I am disappointed that so many folks on here have allowed and encouraged the outcome that K-street lobbyists for the insurance agencies wanted (no public option), I am even more amazed that you think that this bill is somehow being passed without your Republican viewpoint heard. THEY WOULDN'T COME TO THE MEETINGS. C'mon, that's like complaining you lost a football game after the team refused to suit up. You have to be crazy or just plain lying to think that somehow the Republicans didn't get thier fair chance to crap on this bill like everyone else has.

    January 5, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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