January 5th, 2010
10:26 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama, House Dems finalize decision to bypass formal health care conference

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama and congressional Democratic leaders finalized a decision Tuesday to bypass a formal House and Senate conference to meld their health care bills, according to two congressional Democratic leadership sources.

The two told CNN that Obama and Democratic congressional leaders will instead hold informal negotiations to sidestep possible Republican delays of the process.

Avoiding a formal conference has long been expected, but one of the Democratic leadership sources said the president used Tuesday evening's White House meeting with Democratic congressional leaders to formally clear the idea.

To hold a formal conference, conferees - members of the House and Senate - must be appointed by both bodies with resolutions passed by the Senate and the House. Democratic leadership aides said getting those resolutions passed could delay and even derail Democratic efforts, because Republicans would be allowed to offer amendments and hold lengthy debates on the resolutions to appoint conferees.

Instead, White House, House and Senate Democratic leaders and their key committee chairmen will informally meet to find compromise between the two health care bills.

In fact, the White House, criticized by many Democrats for months for having too much of a hands-off approach to health care, has promised that the president and his aides will take a more "prominent role" in the final health care talks, according to a Democratic leadership source.

Obama aides will begin convening and coordinating initial discussions with House and Senate Democratic aides, the source said. The first will take place Wednesday at the White House.

Another Democratic leadership source said house Democratic leaders, who huddled Tuesday in the House speaker's office, will hold a follow-up meeting at the Capitol on Wednesday morning, then go to the White House on Wednesday afternoon.

House Democratic leaders returned a week early from congressional recess to start plotting strategy in resolving what House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer acknowledged Tuesday are "significant differences" between the House and Senate health care bills.

Filed under: Health care
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Tim

    Bypass C-SPAN and the people is more like it. Whatever happened to the transparency you promised us Mr Obama?

    January 6, 2010 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  2. Jerry Indiana

    Well what do you know another back room deal with just one party in charge. Open to all in our country some one lied about that

    January 6, 2010 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
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