WASHINGTON (CNN) - The focus on health care reform now shifts to the Democratic leadership in Congress a day after the Senate Finance Committee voted through its version of the health care bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, initially began deliberations behind closed doors Wednesday in an effort to merge the conservative-leaning Finance Committee legislation with a more liberally drawn bill approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The meeting, however, was moved at the last minute from Reid's office to a large conference room adjacent to it on the second floor of the Capital.
The late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy used the room as his private office after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, in part, because of its easy access to the Senate floor.
Those in attendance included: Reid; Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus; Sen. Chris Dodd of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Phil Schiliro, the director of legislative affairs for the White House; Peter Orszag; director of the Office of Management and Budget and Nancy-Ann DeParle, the director of the White House Office of Health Reform.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - There’s nothing funny about the Colombia free trade agreement, a hotly contested issue on the 2008 election campaign trail and throughout the halls of Congress. But the White House is now sticking up for the beleaguered pact in the funny pages - and Democrats are counterattacking via cartoon.
"This past Sunday, in the comics section of papers nationwide (including the Post), was an insert called the Mini Page that explained trade at a children's level," Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Sean Spicer said in an e-mail sent to reporters Wednesday, adding that the fourth page of the insert included “an explanation of why the Colombia trade agreement is in the best interest of American workers."
President Bush has been a staunch supporter of trade with Colombia.
"Colombia is one of our strongest allies in the Western Hemisphere. They are led by a very strong and courageous leader, President Uribe. He's taken courageous stands to defend our shared democratic values," he said last month.
See the cartoon (PDF).
Joe Shoemaker, communications director for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, responded by pointing to another example of policy education through pictures: the "Schoolhouse Rock!" series.
"Thank you for your helpful (if somewhat condescending) explanation of trade 'at a children's level,'" he wrote in an e-mail.
"I wanted to bring to your attention a series known as Schoolhouse Rock! Between 1973 and 1986 a series of fifty-two educational short films featuring songs about schoolhouse topics” – adding that the cartoon short "I'm Just a Bill" had "dealt extensively with the legislative process - at a children's level."
"If you find 'I'm Just a Bill' helpful, you may also want to check out 'Three Ring Government' which explains the three co-equal branches of the federal government and discusses the concept of separation of powers," wrote Shoemaker.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would not bring the Columbia free trade legislation up for a vote.