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. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    We elected President Obama and we want Healthcare & Healthcare Reform.

    Its shameful that thousands of American citizens die every year because they do not have healthcare!

    Chances of dying in a terrorist attack? One in 80,000

    Chances of going bankrupt due to a medical crisis? 99% of Americans are in danger of losing everything they have worked for!

    January 27, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. J. Rochester, NY

    It is a Moral Imperative to change our health care system. Even the Catholic church is getting involved and the GOP the supposed party of the religious and the righteous are still going to do everything in their power to prevent the American people from have some kind of reform. The GOP does not care about anyone but themselves and their corporate masters.

    January 27, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. Spirit of America

    No change is better than the one being compromised/diluted to death. it's hard to believe that politicos can make a dysfunctional system worse, but pelosi and gang is about to do it.

    January 27, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    And the insurance companies are very happy. Because they wrote the bill. Congress are idiots. When this whole plan fails to make anything better, the whole system will collapse and maybe, just maybe we'll get single-payer like the rest of the world. Have a nice day!

    January 27, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Peggy - TX

    Nancy Pelosi is not too bright. She is not political savvy. She has proven to be a weak leader and a drag on the present administration. She has become the Republican poster child for what is wrong with Washington. She promotes spending and lives up to the worst critiques levied by Republiocans. It is time for Nancy to step aside and let another, more credible person, take the lead – maybe some one that is NOT from that totally loser state of California.

    January 27, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Pelosi is a true leader, and will get this done. For the right wingnuts who think this is the worst of times, they should have been around during Tricky Dick Nixon's gas lines and wage freeze in 1973.

    January 27, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. conservative

    What an abrasive pain this woman is ! Why can't she just shut up!

    January 27, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. Texas Jack

    Peeloosir, shut up GO HOME. No one in the U.S. wants you. Never again will you be re-elected.

    January 27, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. All the news that is fit to omit

    Hey Pelousy I have an idea, let's get all sides at a table, get everyone talking and bringing up ideas, put it on C-SPAN for all to see and go from there?

    Nah, they were only promises, and again you losers had the WHOLE show to yourselves and YOU FAILED to GET ANYTHING DONE, YOU FAILED.

    You have a chance here Maddam speaker, get Republican get the Republicans 260 page bill, the Senate bill and the House bill and find COMMON GROUND.

    Or is it easier to blame others for your lack of brain matter and civility?

    Talk is cheap and so is your "word done".

    January 27, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. Steve (the real one)

    She STILL does not get it! Focus on the ECONOMY! Most Americans reject the bill! Respect the voice of the people and start work on the ECONOMY! Really simple but you keep on pushing this! We will push back and hard in November!

    January 27, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. Eric, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Ms. Botox has totally lost what little credibility she had carrying the water for Obama. She needs to be sent back to San Francisco in November for good.

    Any person that allowed all those trips to Denmark for the bogus climate meeting and costing the taxpayers $1,000,000 in these terrible economic times with unemployment in the 17% actual range, should NOT be re-elected.

    January 27, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Fox anti government spy network pin head Bill O'Reilly wants Nancy kidnapped and waterboarded because, like most right wingnuts, they are afraid of a leader who is a woman and can get things done.

    Of course, right wingnuts are afraid of almost everyone who is not a white male.

    January 27, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Beverly in NC

    Thank you for standing up for real healthcare reform Speaker Pelosi. The House created the best of the two healthcare bills and the one that had the most chance of true reform (public option) and cost savings.

    We who understand the healthcare issue and have read the bill know it is a huge step forward to rein in the greedy, abusive insurance companies and force them to compete for our business. They just might treat us like human beings instead of drags on their profit margins.

    Any member of Congress who votes against healthcare reform, when they all have government-run healthcare coverage they use, should immediately lose their government plan and be forced to buy private insurance and join the rest of us in insurance hell. Why should they have the same healthcare Democrats are trying to create for us yet deny it to all Americans?

    This is a moral and human rights issue, It's not about money. It's the Republican values that have never cared about the welfare of the People. They have been on the wrong side of history for a hundred years. Democrats brought us Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage, the 40 hr work week, no child labor, voting rights for women, equal rights for women, the Family Leave Act so workers could handle family medical emergencies without losing pay or their job, Educational innovations like kindergarten and early childhood education programs and the list goes on and on.

    Republicans voted NO on all of it and yet they now take advantage of these very programs. Republicans have no vision for the future or see the benefit in helping improve the lives of People. They are solely focused on helping the large greedy corporations who sent our jobs overseas, the insurance companies who kill Americans for profit, and the banks who taxpayers bailed out and then turned around and raised our credit card rates and refused to lend money to small business as they promised.

    So when it comes to healthcare – Democrats are on the side of humanity and the People and Republicans are on the side of the abusive insurance companies who kill and bankrupt Americans.

    I support the Democratic Party of the People and President Obama who is doing everything he can to restore our country and make our lives better. What has any Republican done for you?? NOTHING all year long and call for our failure.

    We need full healthcare reform NOW.

    January 27, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    As the vote to pass health care gets closer, Dick Cheney will leave his undisclosed bunker, see his shadow, and declare 6 more years of terrorism, and then return to his bunker like a scared rabbit.

    January 27, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Bayh and Lincoln are toast if health care does not pass.

    January 27, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Ralph

    I support our president and I support health care insurance reform, and I think efforts at passing a reform bill should continue. However, it would disastrous and ignorant to ignore the current sentiment among voters. Granted, I think that sentiment is misguided by ill information and sound bytes from the right, but the sentiment exists nonetheless. Step back, refocus, reach out to Republicans and attempt to craft a bill that, while it may not include everything that was wished for, will still address some of the critical issues. Also, gain support of the American people by including them and clearly explaining the reforms being sought and what they will mean. Combine that with some fiscal responsibility and it should be possible to get a few Republicans on board. Meanwhile, the public will appreciate the efforts on behalf of the Democrats and hopefully the mid-term elections will go well. Then, if the Republicans still try to obstruct, write a true wish-list bill (including a public option) and force it through by whatever means necessary.

    January 27, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. tpbco

    Yes and regardless of what the American people want. The liberals ALWAYS know what's best...for everybody BUT them.

    January 27, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Fitz in Texas

    Is this woman not getting it yet?

    January 27, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. southerncousin

    Lets all hope(at least the nearly 60% against this stupidity) that her promises are as empty as Obamas.

    January 27, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Ethan

    Thank you Nancy!

    Message to U.S. Senate:

    PASS. THE. BILL. NOW.

    January 27, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Tim

    Quick, someone post the definition of delusiounal, before the bat flies away.

    January 27, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Pelosi has to be borderline psychotic. Either that, or the botox seeped into the cranial cavity – which may have at one time contained a functional brain, but has been reduced to nothing more than keeping pulse and respirations going.

    January 27, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Go-ahead-pelosi....

    Pelosi and the Dems your present health care reform bill is so bad it will sink underits own weight....The country wants real reform not political rheoric that will bankrupt this Nation for sure............heed and listen to what the people are saying that they want..........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 27, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. ObamasRecordDefict

    Pelosi is a bigger idiot than REID or OBOZO.

    People don't want the crap PELOSI and the HOUSE are pushing.

    Go back and scale the changes down to something a vast majority can get behind; otherwise, resign.

    * Open state lines (cross state competition)
    * Tort reform
    * Standards to help minimize operation costs
    * Reasonable rules to where insurers can't cancel policies
    * Some level of rules that new comers can't be deniedl however, it may be a higer costs; meaning, you don't get to skip paying, them come up and say (I want insurance now because I need surgery).

    Do common sense things that 80% of the public can support, then you can call that HC reform.

    The crap you're selling, very few people are buying

    January 27, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. terry,va---my comment always awaits moderation and is seldom published.

    Pelosi is an idiot! Not even Obummie will bite on this stupid idea.

    January 27, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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