March 11th, 2010
11:03 AM ET
4 years ago

Democrats try to cross health care finish line

President Obama will meet Thursday with some Congressional Democrats to discuss health care reform.
President Obama will meet Thursday with some Congressional Democrats to discuss health care reform.

Washington (CNN) - The fight for health care reform will take the political center stage again Thursday as President Barack Obama and top congressional Democrats work behind closed doors to nail down a final agreement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who has sounded increasingly optimistic that she will be able to round up the 216 votes needed to pass the Senate health care bill - will host a meeting of the entire House Democratic caucus during the morning.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will try to build public momentum by framing the issue in more personal terms, holding a news conference with an 11-year-old girl whose mother died of pulmonary hypertension after losing her health insurance.

"We are making progress. A lot of decisions were made," Reid told reporters Wednesday. "I really believe the goal we've been seeking for a long time of health care reform is going to be done. We don't have it all worked out yet but we made a lot of progress."

Obama is set to discuss health care in afternoon and evening meetings with African-American and Hispanic members of Congress. He is also planning to take his increasingly populist, anti-insurance industry message back on the road early next week, delivering yet another reform speech in the political battleground state of Ohio.

The president delivered passionate, campaign-style health care stump speeches earlier this week in Pennsylvania and Missouri. Obama has dismissed questionable poll numbers about the Democratic reform plan, declaring the debate over and urging a final up-or-down vote on the matter in Congress.

"The time for talk is over," he said Wednesday in St. Charles, Missouri. "It's time to vote."

GOP leaders, meanwhile, remain furious over the Democratic strategy for passing an overhaul bill. If the House approves the Senate version of the bill, according to Democratic sources, a separate package of changes designed in part to make the overall measure more palatable to House liberals would then be approved by both chambers - getting through the Senate under a legislative maneuver known as reconciliation. Bills passed under in the Senate reconciliation require only a simple majority of 51 votes.

Senate Democrats lost their filibuster-proof 60-seat supermajority with the election in January of Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown to the seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Liberal House Democrats contend, among other things, that the Senate bill does not include an adequate level of subsidies to help middle- and lower-income families purchase coverage. They also object to the Senate's proposed tax on expensive insurance plans.

Separately, a handful of socially conservative House Democrats argue the Senate plan doesn't do enough to ensure taxpayer funds are not used to fund abortions. Several political analysts have said lingering divisions over abortion may prove to be the toughest hurdle for Democratic leaders to overcome.

Republicans argue that reconciliation, which is limited to provisions pertaining to the budget, was never meant to facilitate passage of a sweeping measure along the lines of the health care bill.

Four Senate Republicans who previously served in the House warned House Democrats in a news conference Wednesday that there is no guarantee the reconciliation strategy will succeed.

A unified Senate GOP caucus will fight to prevent changes promised by the Democratic leadership, they said.

House Democrats "better think long and hard" about voting for the Senate plan if they don't like it, said Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota. "If you vote for the Senate-passed bill, you own the Senate-passed bill."


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Voted4HealthCare

    Get 'er done!

    Pass Health Care Now for the American people! Godspeed.

    March 11, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. gerald paddock

    all your talking points are good just pass the bill people in America deserve a chance not just ht e rich

    March 11, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Independent

    This is not a right – left issue. Health care is an American issue.

    This bill contains provisions from both parties (pre-existing conditions, exchanges, tort reform, ins over state lines, closing donut holes, etc.).

    It is past time to get our health-care legislation passed once and for all.

    March 11, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Speaking for Liberals

    Starting over is not an option.
    The GOP is just playing with poll numbers to make it seem like they are on the side of the people. They are not.
    The biggest mistake was trying to work with the GOP
    Stick to your conviction and DO WHAT YOU FEEL IS RIGHT
    There are millions of people suffering who are depending on you
    You can do it
    WE can do it

    March 11, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  5. Clifford in New York

    I don't know what it is but every time I see nonsense like this I get visions of a better time and I can see Ronald Reagan!

    March 11, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. minnie

    Come on Dems!!!! Help the people ... please!!! Please?

    March 11, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. FLIP THE SCRIPT on REPUBLICANS

    When the GOP is trying to scare House Democrats about trusting Senate Democrats to keep their promise to fix the bill, you know that the Party-of-No is SCARED & DESPERATE.

    When the GOP tells Democrats that their re-election chances are hurt by passing the bill ... they don't think the Dems are actually stupid enough to believe that the GOP is looking out for their best interests ... do they ???

    If this bill has a Public Option that MAY BE EXERCISED later, the Democrats will have done well. The THREAT of that option will keep insurance companies in line and will put a check on costs rising faster than inflation.

    When the bill passes, unlike Senator DeMints plan to make Healthcare President Obama's "WATERLOO", instead the opposite will be true ... the GOP will be seen as incapable of denying this President anything that he wants to do on behalf of the American People.

    March 11, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. rachel

    I just can't beleive there are people here who think they can pass a trillion dollar bill that adds to our debt without raising our taxes. Enough comes out of my check and just think for the privelage of beign taxed as soon as the bill is passed no benifts for about 3 years. I am so disappointed I know if my sentar russ feignold votes for this I will not be voting for him come nov.

    March 11, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. ECON 101

    The THREAT of a Public Option = Cost Containment.

    March 11, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Angie in PA

    Are you listening to the President Democrats? Enough debates the time has come to vote my god it has been over a year enough is enough pass the bill with a public option so people have choice and insurance compaines have competion and MOVE ON ALREADY!

    March 11, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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