Obama Meets With Congressional Leaders on Legislative Priorities
On Tuesday, President Obama met with Democratic and Republican leaders at the White House to discuss health care reform, job creation and other legislative priorities, USA Today reports.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) were among those attending the meeting (Jackson, USA Today, 2/10).
The two-hour meeting was the start of fresh efforts by Obama to draw greater input from Republicans into developing a bill through "consensus, regardless of party label," according to the Washington Post (Murray/Kane, Washington Post, 2/9).
The low-profile meeting between Obama and the lawmakers leads up to the televised summit scheduled for Feb. 25, during which Obama plans to lead a bipartisan effort to move reform legislation forward (Gerstein, Politico, 2/9).
However, Obama noted that the bills already include many of the ideas that Republicans favor (Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 2/9). Obama added that although his goals for reform legislation to lower health care costs and extend coverage to more uninsured residents are non-negotiable, he would be willing to consider Republican ideas that achieve those same ends (Washington Post, 2/9).
The president said he remains open to Republican-backed ideas including new restrictions on medical malpractice laws, but he insisted that such policy efforts would have to be combined with other changes to have a substantial impact on the rising cost of care (Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 2/9).
Words With Boehner
According to notes on the meeting obtained by the Post, Boehner and Obama also argued about how a bipartisan bill should be shaped (Washington Post, 2/9).
On Monday, Boehner and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wrote in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that Republicans would "rightly be reluctant to participate" in the Feb. 25 meeting if the starting point for the discussions to develop a final reform bill is the Democrats' House and Senate bills (California Healthline, 2/9).
After the meeting, Boehner said that House Republicans "would like to attend the meeting," adding, "We are interested in having these bipartisan conversations and look forward to continuing conversations with the administration. We are considering it" (Washington Post, 2/9).
Obama Briefs Press About Meeting
In remarks during an unscheduled visit to the White House press briefing room after the meeting, Obama said, "My hope right now is this doesn't become political theater â¦ I want a substantive discussion."
He added, "Bipartisanship cannot mean simply that Democrats give up everything they believe in, find the handful of things that Republicans have been advocating for and we do those things, and then we have bipartisanship. That's not how it works in any of realm of life â¦ there's got to be some give and take" (Politico, 2/9).
Obama told reporters that he would be willing to sign health care reform legislation that he considers less-than-perfect if "we can find enough overlap that we can say, 'This is the right way to move forward, even if I don't get every single thing that I want'" (Washington Post, 2/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.