March 3rd, 2010
12:06 AM ET
8 years ago

Obama to make final case for health care overhaul

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a last-ditch attempt to craft a bipartisan health care reform bill, President Barack Obama will release a new proposal Wednesday afternoon that will include Republican ideas on tort reform and health savings accounts, according to Democratic officials familiar with the plans.

But top Republicans, including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, immediately said the new proposal is not good enough and reiterated calls for the president to scrap the plan and start over. The situation is setting up a likely showdown that top Democrats say will end up with the president trying to pass the health legislation with only Democratic votes through the legislative shortcut of reconciliation.

In fact, senior congressional Democrats have privately expressed frustration that the president is spending time at this late date reaching out to Republicans, when it has become increasingly clear the two parties can not settle their differences on this contentious issue. The senior Democrats said they think the White House should be devoting time trying to win over Democrats, because it's still not clear they can secure a simply majority in the House and Senate for the president's plan.

"Why even bother with the olive branches?" asked one senior congressional Democratic aide. "It's very clear Republicans are not going to provide any votes."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday wouldn't say whether she has the votes to pass a bill, saying Democrats still need to fill in the details of legislation and get a final price tag on it. But the speaker remained positive about the bill's prospects in the House.

"Our members want quality affordable health care for all Americans and I feel very confident that we will accomplish that," Pelosi said.

The No. 2 House Democrat told reporters he thinks some of the Democrats who opposed the House bill last fall could support the new plan the president is pushing.

"Do I think there's a possibility of some people changing? Yes, I do," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. "I think that's because it will be a different bill than either the House and Senate. It will hopefully take the strengths of both and I think if that happens, as is normally the case, when bills change members look at it somewhat differently."

Getting more House Democrats to vote yes is crucial, because the House voted narrowly to pass its version last fall. Two Democrats who voted for that bill have since left Congress - Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Florida. Another Democratic supporter, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, died last month. The one House Republican who voted for the bill - Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana - has since said publicly he is unlikely to support the revised Democratic bill.

Hoyer acknowledged it could be an uphill climb for House Democratic leaders to get the votes. That's because the parliamentary procedure of reconciliation could require that the House first pass the original Senate version - a version many House Democrats oppose - before the Senate would vote on the president's proposed changes. Many House Democrats are wary about going first and have a deep distrust of their Senate counterparts after seeing the Senate fail to take up several bills approved by the House.

"I think members want some assurances that those items that they have problems with are in fact modified before they vote for the Senate bill. I don't know that it's impossible, but it's difficult," Hoyer said.

He strongly rejected, as Obama and other Democratic leaders have, Republican demands that Democrats scrap their health care proposals and start over. "Starting over is a euphemism for not doing, frankly," he said.

Two Democratic officials - a White House official and a senior

Democratic congressional aide - said the president is not expected to use the word "reconciliation" during his remarks on Wednesday, instead just calling for an up-or-down vote on the legislation, which is essentially code for the legislative shortcut.

The White House official said the president will "urge Congress to move swiftly toward votes on this legislation."

The official described the remarks as "moving forward into the final stage of the health insurance reform debate," so the president will again focus on what he thinks is at stake for American families and businesses, and on how "they'll have more control over their own health care, they'll see lower costs, and they'll see an end to insurance company abuses."

In highlighting what the White House thinks has been an honest effort to get bipartisan support, the official said Obama will point out that his proposal incorporates the "best ideas from both parties."

And in contrast to calls for a "baby steps" approach, the president will "restate his preference for a comprehensive bill that will reduce premiums and end discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions," the official said.

The president will make his remarks at 1:45 p.m. in the East Room, and will be joined by health care professionals from across the country and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

- CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (13 Responses)

    "....immediately said the new proposal is not good enough and reiterated calls for the president to scrap the plan and start over."

    What is wrong with this picture! The GOP has no logic or reasoning!
    They are acting like CHILDREN.

    March 3, 2010 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  2. Preston kk

    Preston kathy obama has tried to work with the rups the gop does not give a dam about people who are not rich kick butt mr president

    March 3, 2010 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  3. Texas Jack

    Forget it OBAMA you are not pushing this socialist program down our throats. Take medicare out of it and you might. But too many people have paid for this program to see it abolished by the likes of a watermelon grower.

    March 3, 2010 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  4. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    How many times does he have to try to talk the citizens into this when nearly 75% of the people want this bill scrapped and either start over and/or nothing done? He is a used car salesman trying to BS people inot believing this horrible bill that will increase premiums, increase taxes and decrease the quality/timeliness of care....BHO is Pathetically inexpereinced and well over his head.....he is clueless and arrogant and will try to do whatever he wants no matter how bad it is for the majority of the country!

    March 3, 2010 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  5. letsdothisalready

    Mr. President by all means stop wasting your time with the GOPs. They all ready told you that they want you to fail. Just toss the olive branch and do what you have to do. There's no hope with them.

    The 50 million voters that voted for you still believe that you will keep your promise. Just take control of your party and lead them.

    March 3, 2010 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  6. American Patriot

    If President Obama was getting Republican votes in exchange for incorporating Republican ideas, you could at least understand including their nonsense in the bill.

    But the Republicans clearly have no intention of voting for health care reform, no matter how many concessions President Obama makes. Therefore, there is no reason for him to continue making concessions.

    Time for the Democrats to just pull together and pass health care reform now, without further concessions, and without Republican votes. The Democrats are the governing party, and they need to start governing– or go home.

    March 3, 2010 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  7. maripil

    President Obama should go ahead with healthcare reform without the republicans. It has become very evident that even the best healthcare reform the President and the Democrats offer, the Republicans will say NO anyway!!!

    The Republicans have nothing to offer constructively and everything they say and do borders on total INSANITY!!!! Take the case of the idiotic senator from Kentucky ( Senator Bunning or Senator Nothing) who belligerently blocked the bill to pay and extend benefits to the unemployed!! How insane and belligerent can it get!!! It is so unbelievable and unthinkable that one senator can completely stall a bill in the senate let alone should several senators take the same stance!!

    Soooooo, please President Obama, I plead to you to do the smart thing to go ahead with healthcare reform without the nut wing republicans!!!!

    March 3, 2010 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  8. Stallion

    This president is out of his ever loving mind........he has lost any connection that he had with the voters during his campaign, broken almost all of his promises and now he wants to force thru a plan that the majority has rejected

    March 3, 2010 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  9. Mike

    So Republicans are saying no even before Obama releases his proposal? Can they be any more petty?

    March 3, 2010 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  10. Debbie

    Obama needs to just stop. The GOP has done nothing about the issue except stall, whine, complain. They don't plan on doing anything nor will he get any votes from them. The reason the DEMS have the majority is that the people want the Dems to do something. Just stop with the bepartisianship. The GOP just doesn't know how or care. Move forward without them!

    And Cantor in this article makes me just want to puke. He and Boehner are the worst. They are so obnoxious I have come to not only really dislike their states and wonder what makes their states vote for these jokers. But I would NEVER ever vote for them. Whine, Whine, Whine!

    DEMS if you don't vote for the bill you lose your seat. If you don't do anything at all you lose your seat. Your only hope for winning your seat at re-election is to vote for the bill. Otherwise you will be labeled (and rightly so) weak and can't do the job.

    The GOP would vote in a heartbeat in a block for whatever their party head told them to vote for. So go ahead Dems grow a pair and vote!

    March 3, 2010 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  11. Sue

    Unless Obama throws out the current versions of the Senate/House Bills and starts all over with transparent, bipartisan plans and solutions--which the majority in the country wants based on all polls-–the Republicans should not vote for this bill in any way, shape, or form.

    Obama, Pelosi, and Reid want Republicans to sign onto this current health care disaster-–because they want political cover for the 2010 elections.

    They know that the majority in the country does not want this Bill, and they want to be able to say........."See, it wasn't just Democrats who pushed this Bill through, it was Republicans as well."

    March 3, 2010 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  12. Donkey Party

    There is no logical basis to "start over" on health care reform. What, does the GOP need more time to develop new phony catch-phrases like "death panels", "pulling the plug on grandma", and "government takeover"? The GOP wants to control the American mortality rate to appease their corporate masters, and quite simply, they just have a total disregard for the well-being of Americans. Any American voter that supports the GOP, supports the wholesale destruction of our country. The GOP and the conservative movement is a cancer to our society that needs swift and merciless eradication. The call for Civil War is approaching. I'm ready and anxious to thin their herd. I hate them more than any two-bit Islamic zealot faction, because they're already here among us. Open fire Righties, we're waiting.

    March 3, 2010 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  13. jules sand-perkins

    President Obama's posture about a "last-ditch effort" is only grandstanding to try to display Republicans as "obstructionists."
    I pay Republicans for whom I vote to ward off any further advance of a Marxist socialistic/communistic economic system in my country.
    The President knows how anxious Benefits Beggars are to believe his vote-buying propaganda.

    March 3, 2010 07:02 am at 7:02 am |