August 19th, 2009
09:27 AM ET
13 years ago

WH may push through health care reform without Republicans

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Democrats say Republicans, particularly Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, aren't serious about striking a deal."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration is looking hard at pushing through a health care reform bill without Republican backing, top Democrats close to the White House have told CNN.

The Democratic majority in the Senate has been stymied in the health care debate by Republicans and conservative Democrats, leaving them short of the 60-vote "filibuster-proof" margin needed to pass the bill.

Democratic success could depend on an obscure tactic called reconciliation, a type of budget maneuver that requires only a simple majority - 51 votes - to pass.

Going it alone could be risky for Democrats, not because they couldn't raise the votes, but because Republicans could cast it as a power play, accusing them of failing to win bipartisan support. But it's a fight Democrats might be willing to enter.

"If we have to push it through this way, no one is going to remember how messy it was," a top White House adviser told CNN. "At the end of the day, they'll remember we got health care reform done. A win is a win."

White House officials are beginning to lay the groundwork for such a move, telling CNN that they'll have to take drastic measures if there's no movement.

Sources from the administration and the Democratic side of Capitol Hill have told CNN that they're becoming increasingly convinced that Republicans - particularly Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley - involved in the negotiating process aren't serious about striking a deal.

Full story

Filed under: Health care • Obama administration • Senate
soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. Mel

    I say do it. It's clear by these misguided soles making a fool of themselves at these town hall meetings & by all the lies about it that they don't see a compromise. Do what needs to be done & when the smoke clears, the fearmongers will look foolish when the majority of their allegations prove false.

    August 19, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. Jose Awesome

    Republicans are not interested in passing health care reform and they never have been. The bulk of Republicans will not vote for ANY bill, no matter what it looks like. The GOP base, no matter what gets passed, will forever continue to yell about socialism and death panels and rationing and whatever other talking points FOX implants into their heads.

    There is no point in trying to appease the unappeasable.

    August 19, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Molly Weasley

    Republicans have no interest in seeing this pass. They said from the beginning that they won't vote for the bill. What choice do Democrats have? Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi are bargaining in bad faith on the Senate Finance Committee. Republicans scream about "death panels" and "euthanasia" when they voted for the same provision in the Medicare Part D (drug coverage) bill, and Sen. Johnny Isakson introduced the same legislation last year. Why should anyone believe anything a Republican says anymore?

    Ted Kennedy might make it to the Senate chamber after all just to vote for cloture. This is still very much alive.

    August 19, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. George

    DO IT DO IT NOW!!!! Forget the GNOP. The republicans are wasting tax payer money even being in Washington. They get elected then go on self layoff as soon as they hit town. They say NO to anything related to human decency, and are proud enough to brag about it. People like Boehner should just stay home, and save us all a lot of money.
    DEMOCRATS: Do it, make the bill how you want, but a public option is a must. Forget the party of NO. America is forgetting them. They even voted against children's health care. Real caring people!!! WOW!!

    August 19, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. The black Spider

    It's about Time to leave the ignorants GOP behind and move forward.
    Let history judge this republicans that think regaining power through lies is more important than trying to solve the problems that face this nation.
    It takes two to tango and they refuse at least democrat have sent them the invitation to dance.
    Health care reform now with strong public option or get out of way.

    August 19, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. ex-republican

    Yes, do it!
    We don't need them. Let them stay with insurance companies and their greedy CEO's.

    August 19, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. sean

    About time. The Republicans don't care at all about the poor or middle class, and certainly have never supported health care, social security or medicare, or civil rights and probably want to kill those too. We will never get any progressive legislation out of this crowd, so it is time to move forward without them. Yes, they'll screen that it is "socialism" but they'll never give up their perks and free healthcare. They'll say competition and capitalism is the answer, then that the government options are unfair because they don't make a profit. They'll call the government option "death panels" and ignore the fact that for those of us with "pre-existing conditions" insurance companies (Republican payrons) are "death panels".
    The Republicans seem to want to recreate pre-1900s America- lots of poor people (cheap labor), no unions, healthcare, social nets or education, and of course no taxes for the wealthy. They are the new taliban.

    August 19, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    Good it is about time. I don't know why they were trying to play nice with the party of No anyway. NO matter what they come up with the GOP will try to block.

    August 19, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. Canadian Soccer Mom

    Unfortunately, there is no other choice. President Obama is of the temperment to listen to everyone at the table and have everyone's ideas heard. Republicans see bipartisanship behavior as weakness. That has become clear. President Obama has extended his hand over and over only to have it smacked away. From what I understand, Obama was elected by the people not the Republican party. The people voted for him on the basis of reforming health care so it is not the Republicans business to decide what the American people get.

    August 19, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. bravado in boston

    GO FOR IT!

    We should all remember how many bills were crafted behind Republican Closed Doors when they controlled the Congress and the WH. They didn't even let the Democats IN to bring their ideas forward.

    GO FOR IT! Call Congress back in session early, and PASS THE BILL!

    Let's get with it!

    August 19, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. Lynn


    The Dems should have moved in this direction weeks ago. Our President's nature is to work with everyone, but the Repugs only know one way – the way that puts money in THEIR pockets. They could care less about the millions of Americans who are uninsured or underinsured. All the care about is getting the power of the White House back so they can stuff their pockets.


    August 19, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. Ignorance is bliss

    I dont have much many but I want to help the health insurance industry any way I can. I just drained my savings account and maxed out my credit cards and sent them all of it to battle the nazi's who are trying to build concentration camps in America. I also attended three town hall meetings and shouted at the top of my lungs " what about the constitution!!!!! " of course I have no idea what it says But I know it dosnt like hitler.

    August 19, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. vickie

    PlEASE, PLEASE, push it through with the public option in place. Without that, there's simply no way to call it reform. The republicans aren't going to vote for it no matter what, so just get it done right and let the chips fall where they may.

    August 19, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. Bill Sampson

    The Republicans have one goal related to health care reform. It is to collect as much campaign cash from the "health" insurance lobby as possible for use in the 2010 elections. And they will do the insurance lobby's bidding to get it.

    The Republicans have clearly chosen sides in this debate and it is not the health and welfare of the American people. They have chosen to protect "health" insurance industry profits.

    August 19, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. RealityKing

    Obama the divider

    August 19, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Chris

    YES! Its about time, im a proud Liberal and a big Obama supporter and Lately i have been critical on him being too soft and not stepping up to the plate and saying to hell with the GOP and im glad he is finally starting to do that now! I hope they pass it, WE need a public option for true healtcare reform and we need it now! I trust Pelosi and Reid to take the stand and pass this bill with or with out the GOP. Bipartisanship is OVERRATED. The republicans have 0 credibility, NONE!

    August 19, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. Brian

    Do it.... And don't expect to be re-elected!

    August 19, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Micah

    "If we have to push it through this way, no one is going to remember how messy it was," a top White House adviser told CNN. "At the end of the day, they'll remember we got health care reform done. A win is a win."

    It is very clear the majority of American's want Healthcare reform; However, it is equally clear, the majority of Americans do not want the current "public option" (government conrtolled) healthcare reform that is being pushed. Representative Murtha is right on track with the pulse of America when he stated that Americans want Congress to get it right which takes time. However the Democrats lead by Nancy Palosi are out of touch.

    If health care reform is pushed through the sentate using reconciliation, it will cost the Democrates control of congress in 2010 and make Obama a lame duck president for two years until his is voted out of office.

    August 19, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  19. Marie

    Great....let's leave the party of "NO" behind and get something done for this country! They all have insurance and could care less about the rest of us. They are bankrupt with respect to solutions anyway. Please, Obama, take a stand and move ahead like we ask you to with our votes.

    August 19, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. CL OT

    Seems like they are more worried about winning than the American people. What a shame.

    August 19, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. Rani McBride

    Good and I hope they do it. When will the Democrats learn no matter how much they concede to the Republicans they will never vote for reform because bottom line, they want the President to fail. And why is the Media not showing the other point of view at the Town Halls. The President was right... TV loves a Rucus. There are plenty of reasonable people that support health care reform and a public option. Start reporting their views, not just the nut cakes out there that believe Obama is Hitler and wants a Goverment take over. Give me a Break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 19, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. don

    something constructive needs to be done and if the gopers glued to party than progress wanna say "no" to everything due to anger and hate from the elections and for their own political ambitions , drop them out.they never put forth a plan, all they do is criticize.
    "say no and do nothing gopers". at least some sensible dems and the president are working very hard to turn their mess around and they know obama's success and for that matter americas success will tear the gop into pieces.are they watching and learning the lessons of diplomacy over enmity-north korea release the 2 female journalist, iran release a journalist, vietnam also release another american, economy ticking up, more respecting america etc
    the fear tactics they use through ignorant hateful people as seen through the media will backfire big time as in the elections.the gop is doomed for at least 12yrs.mark my words.

    August 19, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  23. Shawn - GA

    I say do it, go against what the majority of America wants, show your true colors and we will not forget it.

    August 19, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  24. RH

    Good. The US Congress could learn a few things from the Westminster system.
    Look, the Democrats won the election, and they won solidly. In most civilised parts of the world, that's considered a legitimate mandate to push through an agenda. It's not the majority's place to grovel to the opposition – let them oppose, that's their function. If the government's policies and legislation later turn out to be a failure in the eyes of the polity, fine – the next elections will reflect that.
    Americans have grown so accustomed to comically absurd deadlock that they look on any movement at all with great suspicion. They all want government to do something to improve their lives until it actually tries, at which time it is invariably met with cries of, "Fascism!" "Communism!" and/or "Socialism!" Grow up, America.

    August 19, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  25. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Health care reform MUST pass! The Republicans cannot be counted on for anything other than protecting the insurance and pharmaceutical giants who are ripping us off and making it impossible for 1 in every 6.5 of us to even have coverage! These bad, really bad industries are profiting on human misery and placing their own profit far in front of the public's actual medical care. It is high time we stop this financial rape of the average American citizen. I strongly urge Independents and Democrats to leave the conservative Republicans back in the 19th century where they belong and enact a strong and universally inclusive health care reform package NOW!

    August 19, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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