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
There is only one avenue open to them, and that is to pass the Senate bill through the House using whatever means necessary. They can always go back and pass more reform later, but they're not going to get the compromise bill through the Senate and if they don't move now they'll have nothing.
No! Madam Speaker. You have to many cowards in your party.
how many facelifts absences does Pelosi get per year?
why does she have a very large private aircraft.
her job is in DC, NOT california.
Nancy, you are going to have to gut that Bill if you hope to pass even a close facsimile of it. Your panicky colleagues are becoming more concerned with keeping their seats, than with your wacky agenda.
Shut up Pelosi the people have spoken when they voted in Brown NOT YOU.
Here Nancy Pelosi comes again with her version of the "Charge of the Light Brigade". She is ignoring everything the voters are saying about healthcare to stick to her liberal agenda to pass it no matter what the cost to her Democrats in Congress. As far as they're concerned, the appropriate analogy might be her Marie Antoinette, "Let them eat cake" attitude.
Does this woman get it all americans are not concerned with healthcare at this time we understand it's a problem but americans
would like to have a job and see the economy get better see she
doesn't understand this because she has a job and she doesn't worry
about feeding her family she is so far out of touch it's pathetic.
It seems to me that Obama, Pelosi and Reid are more concerned about the "win" rather than actual healthcare reform. If the Bill is bad – it will not be a "win" for the American people. No matter which side of the fence you're on (Democrat or Republican) – both parties need to be involved. The Bill as it stands now should be done away with, and a new Bill that is actually thought out with the best interest of the American people should be brought to the table by BOTH parties.
It is time that our politicians – both Democrats and Republicans – start representing the people and not themselves in their self-serving ways.
I am just despondent as to how this country has declined, how our politicians bicker like young children, and how nothing is being done for the American people.
I am still shocked that the Republicans see this as a victory. Stopping Americans from getting more affordable, more dependable health insurance...that's your victory?!?! You should be ashamed of yourselves!
Pelosi, give it up!!! We need the focus to be on jobs, without jobs, no one can pay for healthcare reform,especially the heavily taxed program you are offering.
Pass the senate bill, then amend the package so it can pass the senate by reconciliation. That is certainly better than what Bush did to get tax cuts for the wealthy.
please go and crawl back under the ecologically correct rock from whence you came. irritating little twit
As someone that has spoken out against the level of reform, I think it's great that there is committment to passing something – just not that 2000 page Godzilla of a bill that is hopefully off the table. They just don't get it: save for a small percentage of very vocal and unrealistic people on the far right, the majority want health reform, it's necessary. But they went from "change" all the way to crazy and a lot of rational questions and doubts surfaced.
Let's start by passing some things (like pre-existing conditions) that we can all agree on and work from there. It was just too big and intimidating – and now they're in a tight spot.
She will give us something, it all depends how you define "win".
As with every year, this year is no different. Insurance premiums have gone up 15%. Which means higher deductibles, copayments and any other out of pocket expenses. This is why a public option is needed. My employer is trying to switch from Anthem Heathkeepers to Optima PPO. The ironic thing is, their premiums are the same. There is no savings switching from one thief to another. They all jack their prices up and reimburse providers less.
Good luck Ms. Penazi. You're a big failure as a leader. Along with Hairy and Wingnut.
Sure, we'll get something. But we won't get what the majority of the PEOPLE want because of the spineless democrats.
This woman is a very nasty person. But, not just nasty she is also very ugly both inside and out. Why doesn't she go bad to san fran and live with her crazy supporters! Leave the politics to people who care about the healthcare and financial woes of the American public! Please leave lady!
Speaker Pelosi and the members of the House and Senate have told us the story of Health Care for a year now. Isn't it about time they told us a new story, like maybe the story of The Three Bears. I'm 62 now and haven't herd that one since I was a child.
No Nancy you are not since your idea of reform only helps the unions and goverment folk, Please do not do us any favors.
"WE WILL HAVE SOMETHING."????? CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN!
The best thing for President Obama and even the American people is if Pelosi would just shut up and go back to California and enjoy her billions of dollars she probably made through the use of her political proclivities. She and Reid are obstructionist and the reson why nothing can get done in Washington. Obama start leading before they sink you too. And if you support their political chicanery, then shame on you!!!
This congress won't pass a responsible health care plan this session because Pelosi and her Ultra Liberal Congress won't consider any market driven ideas like inter state competition etc. Pelosi will not include the Republicans unless they go along with her completely. She and Harry Reid are the reason this was a wasted year for President Obama, but it was his fault to leave everything up tio them. He did not LEAD.
These two are completely partisan and ideological. They don't care about polls, they dispise and denegrate anyone who dares not agree with them even if it means losing dozens of seats and possibly controll of congress.
What a disgrace.
Nov. can't come fast enough.
We need to support health care reform period! Our insurance just went UP! Our presciption medication also went UP. It went up form 15.00 for 40 pills to 134.00 for 20 pills.
Passing any of the partisan garbage that has been developed under Pelosi would be a failure for the American people