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. It has begun-

    Does anyone care that the House has put everything else aside and is solely working on the HC atrocity?

    Does anyone care that there will be no HC benefits until 4 yrs after the bill is passed. But you will be mandated to buy your own health insurance immediately & u will have to pay taxes for something you will not get for 4 yrs!

    Let's see. I will purchase a car, pay for it but I cannot get to drive it for 4 yrs! Yes I will sign up for that!!

    REally? Some change!

    March 11, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. It has begun-

    After which, Dems will be "slaughtered" in the upcoming elections!

    March 11, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Obama Victim

    "closed doors"................tells you all you need to know

    March 11, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. Ken

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

    Looks like the dear leader will continue to labor in secrete to take over ever larger sections of the US economy "for our own good".

    What is amazing is that there are still a few crazy left loons out there that believe these dictator wanabees.

    March 11, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Tired of Town Halls

    When is Obama going to give up his ego driven health bill that nobody wants. Stop trying to stuff this thing down everybody's throat. THE BILL STINKS, and both the patients and doctors are going to suffer. Get ready for long waiting lists and poor quality physicians...because really, who would go through all that training only to work long hours for poor reimbursement? There are a lot of bigger problems to be worried about right now instead of concentrating on ruining the one decent thing we have left. Why else would Canada's prime minister come here for heart surgery?

    March 11, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. Nick , California

    Pass health care now!!! Don't celebrate failure like the Republicans!! Don't let the fear control you... but let your heart guide you to do what is right for millions of your fellow Americans! To all of you so called "Christian conservatives".. what would Jesus do??... Would he tell the less fortunate sorry.. you can't afford it.. so your gonna die in vain.. or would he put himself on the line to sacrifice for the good of all!!! Stop the political football game and do what is right! The right choices in life are usually the harder ones! Its easy to say no... but it takes courage to come to a compromise to help millions!

    March 11, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. The Calabash Kid

    We have a two party system. One party – conservatives – is antidemocratic and would prefer to see America morph into a corporate dictatorship. The other party – everyone else – would like to see our democracy work. Those who dislike dictatorships are stuck, by default, with the dysfunctional, gutless, vision-less Democratic Party. Voting for a third party is the same as voting Republican.

    I can only hope for divine intervention. May the Creator of the Universe touch the hearts of Democrats in Congress and give them what they have none of: courage.

    March 11, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. Tayo, NY

    Politics as usual. While the house Democratic leaders focus on passing health care bill, the GOP leaders are focusing on the next election.

    It's all politics, as usual. Period!

    March 11, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Blue

    Thank you Dems for taking care of business.

    March 11, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Tom

    The only thing they are crossing is the LINE, and it isn't a finish line!

    March 11, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. Jason

    Fired up! Ready to go!! :)

    March 11, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. stevegee

    The Democrats might cross the finish line with this healthcare abomination, but they're all finished in November.

    March 11, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. Bill, Bloominton IL

    alot of decisions will be made behind closed doors which is where bribery will happen for votes. Nothing has changed in Washington.

    March 11, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. SLM

    Cram this lousy bill down our throats before we vote you out of power this November. Do what you want and NOT what the people want and you are done. Just hope we can recall this disaster with the new leaders coming November.

    2010/2012 to correct the huge mistake of 2006/2008.

    March 11, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. I Can't Stand It

    The first paragraph of this article says it all: "the fight for health care reform." Who are the Democrats "fighting"? The American people, of course, who have consistently opposed this bad idea by a pretty substantial margin. They, unlike Pelosi and Reid, understand that you can't increase demand for a service while the supply remains constant (at best) without soaring prices and/or rationing. It appears they are destined to win this fight against the very people they supposedly represent, and even though they will lose the Congress in November, the damage will have been done.

    March 11, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Doug,lib jersey

    Government lib-care, its not good enough for Harry or Nancy, but it is good enough for the sheep libs who hand over their freedom for the few scraps of entitlements taken off the backs of the greatest Americans.

    March 11, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Angry White Male

    Keep pushing Dems. You don't even realize there is going to be a serious Supream Court Challenge to this.

    Also, the States are going to line up and for the umpteenth time

    WE DONT' WANT YOUR STUPID HEALTH CARE!

    It's called the 10th Amendment. Govenor Rick Perry of is going to lead the charge of giving Obama, Pelosi and Reid the finger they so very much deserve.

    March 11, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  18. gpc

    I, like most Americans, want reform–but this plan is not a good one. For one thing, it does not do thing one to contain costs. I also, like most Americans, am tired of the apparent refusal or inability of your elected reps to listen to us. Time for a total clean out of Congress. All incumbents, Repbulican and Democrat, should go. We should then abolish the defined benefit pension plan and special health care plans for any elected officials. They are not employees. Let them contribute to their own IRAs with taxpayer funds to match on the same terms they had when they were employed. Time for meaningful change. Not the rubbish we're being handed by this lot.

    March 11, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. al in memphis

    I agree with the Reps that reconcilation was never intended for something like this, because the American people expected to have compentent leaders who could sit down and jointly solve problems. Enough of this "no guarantee the reconciliation strategy will succeed" garbage and "better think long and hard " threats, put together something that will work.

    Its not secret that the health care system is failing people and putting profits before a reasonable quality of life. If people had to pay $40/gallon for gas, you would see Republican, opinion polls, and everybody else saying something got to get done.

    March 11, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. Hannah

    The time is now for this to pass. If we don't do it now it will never get done. the Republicans do nothing when it comes to programs for the American people. Yes, bush passed the medicare prescription drug bill which was a total mess with the do-nut hole and having 70 or more plans to chose from for seniors and it then cost the taxpayers 400 million more than they said; they lied abut the cost. But basically all republicans can do is start wars and build up nukes. Time to take care of the people.

    March 11, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Grin and Bare It

    WOW, couldn't believe my eyes so I had to read this twice. Reid is stooping to a new low. Now he is going to use an 11 year old girl to try and make a point. This just plain discusses me. The thought alone of manipulating an 11 year old child by making her stand there and re-live the death of her mother. Harry Reid is a disgrace. Also, if there was ever a thought that Obama is a Racist I think it is shown here "Obama is set to discuss health care in afternoon and evening meetings with African-American and Hispanic members of Congress". Why only these groups if he wasn't a racist or trying to use race as an issue? I have never been so disallusioned with our Government. I hope they all fry.

    March 11, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. Michael

    No more stories, no more excuses, no more stonewalling --get it done.

    March 11, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. Michigan Resident

    I disagree with Reid using an 11 year old girl's personal story as propaganda. Such a tactic slants it inappropriately to look like Democrats are willing to rush to the aid of orphaned children who lost their mother, while Republicans would rather watch the girls' mother die.

    The fact is both parties want to prevent situations like this. Just because Republicans disagree with Democrats about how this woman needed care does not mean they support her not receiving care. Those are two different things.

    As an independent voter, I am becoming more and more disgusted with the Democratic approach to reform.

    March 11, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. Dale

    Political suicide – It's that simple.

    OBAMA says "Do the right thing" Well Mr. Obama doing the right thing is listening to the majority "The people"

    Not listening to us is "The WRONG thing"

    I agree in HC reform BUT START OVER

    I cannot believe any Incumbent Dem's are allowing these people to convince them to vote yes. You are betraying YOUR PEOPLE. The majority is telling you NO and START OVER and you better do it.

    March 11, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

    Do like Nike and just DO IT!!

    Screw the Rethugs. You're playing into their hands, and wasting TIME. You all have been in Washington long enough to pass anything and everything else. I know to God you CAN pass this.

    Come the hell on already!

    March 11, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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