January 27th, 2010
01:12 PM ET
5 years ago

Pelosi promises health care reform win

Pelosi promises health care reform win.
Pelosi promises health care reform win.

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted Wednesday that Congress will pass a health care reform bill, despite recent setbacks that have raised new questions about the changing political climate.

Democratic hopes to get a bill to President Barack Obama's desk before his upcoming State of the Union speech were derailed by the GOP's upset win in last week's special election to fill Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat.

The win stripped Democrats of their 60-vote Senate supermajority and gave Republicans enough votes to block most legislation in the chamber. Democrats, who were in the process of combining previously passed House and Senate bills at the time of election, have been struggling since to come up with a new legislative strategy.

"I don't see (failure) as a possibility," Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill when asked about the possibility of not enacting health care reform. "We will have something."


The current health care system "is unsustainable," she added. "We will make progress. Whatever it is - one way or another - we will go forward."

Democratic leaders are now working on a plan for the House to pass the Senate bill, along with a separate package of changes in the Senate plan that reflect compromise between the two chambers.

Some conservative Democrats have been pushing House to approve the current Senate bill unchanged. Doing so would prevent the newly-reconstituted Senate from having to take up the measure again.

Last week, however, Pelosi asserted that the Senate bill has too many unpopular provisions to win approval from the House if it is not accompanied by a package of changes.

Pelosi said the Senate bill has "certain things that (House) members just cannot support." She cited a provision worked in by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson that exempts his state from paying increased Medicaid expenses, and a 40 percent excise tax on insurance companies that provide the most expensive health insurance coverage.

In the Senate, meanwhile, some liberal Democrats have urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to use a legislative tool known as reconciliation, which would allow certain components of the health care bill to pass with only 51 votes.

Some Democratic sources warn, however, that using reconciliation is complicated and fraught with legislative hurdles, raising questions about whether it could happen even if enough congressional Democrats supported the move.

Other Democrats in tough re-election fights worry voters will see such a move as legislative gimmickry, reinforcing complaints that Democratic control of Washington has been business as usual.

On Tuesday, two moderate Democratic senators facing re-election battles this year - Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln - said they would oppose the use of reconciliation in the health care debate.

Bayh called the move "ill-advised." Lincoln released a statement saying she will "not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes ... through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans."

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Ohio last Friday, Obama admitted the health care reform effort had run into a political "buzz saw."

"The long process of getting things done runs headlong into the special interests, their armies of lobbyists, and partisan politics aimed at exploiting fears instead of getting things done," he said.

But, he promised, "I'm going to keep up the fight for real, meaningful health insurance reforms."

Obama, who made health care his top domestic priority last year, will address the issue in his State of the Union address, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

–CNN's Dana Bash, Alan Silverleib and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report


Filed under: Democrats • Health care • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Ben in Texas

    Great, Nancy. You've bungled things so far, so how about going back and writing a SINGLE PAYER health care bill, so that Americans can have what the rest of the civilized world, our military, and YOU already have. Nothing less is acceptable.

    You know, all you had to do was to give us what was promised in the 2008 elections, without selling us out to the insurance companies, and you would have been the most popular person around, instead of a pariah.

    January 27, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. Hugo

    Nancy made a vow to dead Ted that she would pass this monstrosity of a Bill. Shows you where her loyalties lie, in the grave with a dead carpet bagger instead of with the people she serves.

    January 27, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. Dar

    If you want it to pass peeholesi then you better get it right. That means throwing away the current peice of trash of a bill and starting fresh.
    A bill that all Americans can back, not just a few select that whine we want it free all the time.
    And by the way peeholesi, go ahead and try reconciliation, you will have then sealed the fate of your party.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    January 27, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. WrongKindofChange

    That's like Pelosi promising a re-election win. It's not going to happen.

    January 27, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. JP

    Stage was such that the voice of American people didn't mean anything during those back room deals with the union leaders, and it was all about the party and the chairman.
    Apparently, Pelosi wants to revisit them all over again.

    January 27, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. cecilia

    Happy to hear Speaker Pelosi refers to this bill as Health Insurance Reform bill – it is the insurance industry that needs reform. and the sooner the better

    January 27, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. chicana

    Talk about D E L U S I O N A L ! ! !

    Pelosi should just quit pushing her liberal agenda on to the American people who clearly oppose it.

    January 27, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. Matt

    This lady is dillusional and is living in a fantasyland that you and I are paying for. Can we please get people that can see the writting on the wall. This fool is out of touch amd out to lunch.

    January 27, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. farmer

    Nancy promises a lot of things ... kind of like the gal I knew back in High School. She didn't deliver either.

    January 27, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. D.

    Ideology over the people's will!
    Dictatorship in the USA?
    What win?

    January 27, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. Enough

    This out of touch old bat needs to retire. How about explaining your million dollar trip to Copenhagen, courtesy of the tax payers.

    January 27, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. katiec

    Health Care Reform is vital for our country. The system we now have is a disgrace.
    It is time for ALL politicians to put campaign funding, personal gains, big business aside and start representing the Americal people.

    January 27, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Mr. Smith goes to Washington and encounters the deep-rooted, and long-seated tendrils of the corrupted status-quo.

    Interesting how we voted for change, and we're resisting any and all attempts at bringing it about. We've become with, few exceptions, whining, spoiled, insipid little children clamoring to get "their country back" from those that would deliver progress and reform, and who would invest as freely in our own nation as we have invested in the past to bomb other nations into kingdom come.

    I've come to believe that we don't know WHAT we want. Given the choice between new and bold or old and doomed we'll stick with what hasn't worked because we know what that looks like.

    As someone wrote: "The audacity of nope".

    God help us as we are too blind, stupid, and incapable of helping ourselves or letting those we elected to do so, do so.

    January 27, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. Mike

    If the senate bill passes the congress there will be alot more demorats going home for good in JAN2011 from the NOV2010 elections. It will be a blood bath for demorats anyway, go ahead, make our day and pass the bill. It can be repealed.

    January 27, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. Johnny DC

    So which is it? Pelosi says they'll do anything to pass anything, implying neither the content of the bill nor it's predicted success truly matters at all. Obama says they'll keep fighting for meaningful health insurance reforms, implying that's what they've been doing every step thus far. Which part of that was Sen. Nelson's special deal? Or the one for Louisiana?

    January 27, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. Allowing a Monopoly doesnt bring down prices

    It isnt a win for the people of America if it doesnt contain a public Option,period.

    January 27, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. Pilgrim

    Isn't it wonderful that Pelosi wants "something...whatever it is, one way or another" rather than come up with a plan that Americans actually want. Business as usual in Washington. Rayher than take the hint from the electotate that behind-the-scene deals just won't cut it anymore with fed-up Americans, she'd rather just ram through "something...whatever it is, one way or another"

    January 27, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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