March 11th, 2010
11:03 AM ET
8 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. John D

    These people are incredible. They think they are our lords and masters. The MAJORITY of the people do not want the government running our Healthcare System. No matter how many times Obama explains it, we are not SOCIALISTS and do not want to be!

    Pass this bill and there will be hell to pay in NOVEMBER!

    March 11, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Alan

    America was must stop this at all cost and vote these idiots out in NOV.

    March 11, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Richie in Mass

    More behind closed doors meetings. I bet the deals they are making won't be seen for a while but will eventually be discovered. They learned from the Senate. How exactly are they going to get any changes by the senate? The Republicans can block any changes they want to make. As it is the Cornhusker kickback, The FL medicade advantage and many other deals will be passed if the congress passes the Senate plan through reconciliation. They want to live with that? All the changes Obama wants would have to get 60 votes to open the bill for a vote.

    If the bill was good they wouldn't need to worry. They can't get their own party to support it.

    March 11, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Pass it now! Poll after poll after poll shows that when people learn what's in the proposed health care reform bill, the vast majority are in favor of it.

    Polls also show that people who get their information only from Fox, Limbaugh, etc., don't know what's in the bill and are filled with lies and fears, tricked into defending the very health care industry that rations their care, drops them when they get sick and puts money ahead of their well-being.

    All the parrots squawking about "jamming" this bill down our throats (even though it's been debated for over a year and is something that's been talked about for over 40 years) are doing nothing to help our country.

    March 11, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. bts

    By the grace of God, BRING IT ON !!!!!!!!

    March 11, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Gale Shipman

    It is not "progress" for the US government to destroy our economy; it is not "progress" for the US government to destroy our civil right to select our own health care program; it is not "progress" for the US to have health care mandated from the federal government.

    March 11, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. Monkey wrench

    Can't we all just say "Dead Duck" and get on with setting our Nation back on to economical prosperity. You can't pay for entitlements when you ain't makin' money. I know Obama seems to think he can just print more or borrow more but those proverbial chickens are coming home to roost, we are in for some tough love on our entitlements. I have a solution to thwart all this borrow and spend from all of our elected elite, let's make them all personally responsible for their commensurate part of the debt. Just like when you or I go borrow from a bank, a percentage of personal liability attributable to each and every one of them based on their votes! Do you think they might quit spending money we don't have if they had their accumulated wealth in the game?

    March 11, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. jeff jackson, alabama

    You can find the book "WAR AND PEACE"
    on the internet. But I have yet to find the
    Health Care Bill.
    What's in it that makes the dems want to pass
    it so quickly ????????

    March 11, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. stop the nonsense

    Sorry to hear the meeting today is "closed door". I realize that means without cameras, will be percieved as a backdoor deal.
    I hope that the detials of the discussion are made public to stop the inevitable cries form the other side.

    March 11, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. Four and the Door

    President Barack Obama and top congressional Democrats work behind closed doors to nail down a final agreement.
    Start-to-finish this has been a collection of behind closed doors deals with no Republicans invited. Again Obama says one thing and does exactly the opposite.

    March 11, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Stallion

    I wonder how many of them will be crying in November? lol......can't wait to see how many democrats get voted out in November......I will be the 1st person in line at the voting booths.

    March 11, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. SoCalGal

    There is inherently something wrong when officials who are bound to represent their citizens wholly ignore their citizens to push through self-serving legislation.

    March 11, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Linda

    I'm disgusted that Democrats–Democrats!–are holding up the passage of meaningful healthcare reform for actual living people in order to sqwawk about the supposed "rights" of merely potential people. Donna Shalayla said it best years ago (and was promptly demonized and subsequently ousted for it) "Get over your love affair with the fetus".

    The Senate bill does nothing to reign in insurance companies, and, without a strong public option there is no reform. Dems should use reconcilliation or any other tactic necessary at this point to give the American people what we need - affordable, reliable health care NOW!

    March 11, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Mark

    Looks like the hispanic caucus won't vote for the senate bill because it has provisions in it so that illegals in our country won't be eligible for subsidized heath insurance. The house bill allows illegals to receive up to $10,000 a year in subsidies. Same as the local crack dealer.

    Change you can believe in??????????????????

    March 11, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. Linda

    And while we're at it, let's reign in the lawyers, reducing the cost of malpractice insurance. Millions of dollars awarded for an honest mistake that caused no lasting harm? Doctors ordering every conceivable test for ordinary conditions because they're terrified to miss something and get sued out of existance? Crazy. And let's get rid of pharmaceutial t.v. ads, which put doctors in the position of having to explain to patients why they don't need the latest greatest drug to effectively treat their aliment amid howls of indignant protest. Let's loosen the FDA guidelines to speed up the the R&D and reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Just a couple of thoughts.

    March 11, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. Term Limits

    The only thing less popular in American politics tight now than health care are the Democrats. Passing health care will all but hand November over to Republicans.

    No wonder Harry Reid is encouraging third party candidates. It will be the ONLY way they save some seats.

    March 11, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    "President Barack Obama and top congressional Democrats work behind closed doors to nail down a final agreement."

    Why are they behind closed doors... AGAIN?

    March 11, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. AK Steve

    I think the most important part of the article is the last sentence. It sums up why health care is in the situation it is in. Republicans refuse flat out to work with the Dems – they're only role, besides being totally uncooperative is to make threats.

    I am sick of fear mongerers running this country. They are making us an ignorant country of fearful sheep. Stick it to them Dems – someone has to say "enough is enough" and lead us out of the dark ages.

    March 11, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. Conservative American

    Do I still have to wait until it's passed in order to know what's in it? Go ahead Prince Harry and Princess Pelosi. Doom your party and destroy the nations economic future with passage of this bill.

    March 11, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. Todd

    About time. A study in the Post today shows that emplyers are planning to cut employee pay by raising health care costs for employees this coming year, and they are doing it because insurance just keeps getting so much more outrageously expensive every year.

    Expecting republicons to do anything about anything is like waiting for the Pacific ocean to dry up from evaporation.

    March 11, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. John

    "We don't have it all worked out yet??" Reid says. This guy has no job being in front of microphone. Why don't YOU figure it out, before you shove this "more than expected" several hundred billion dollar HCR down our throats! IS IT NOVEMBER YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 11, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. LIP

    And once they cross that finish line, they all become losers.

    March 11, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Too little leadership from O & Company too late. A bad bill can be much worse than none. Start over with a centrist President and Congressional leadership, not unrealistic radicals.

    March 11, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  24. Grundoon

    Go, baby, go!!!

    March 11, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. 9 More To Go

    We only need 9 more senate votes to pass the public option. Let's get on it progressives.

    March 11, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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