Obama Urges Congress To Act Swiftly on Health Care Reform Legislation
On Wednesday, President Obama told Congress to pass a health care reform bill soon, calling for an "up or down vote" on an overhaul package within the next three weeks, Roll Call reports (Bendery, Roll Call, 3/4).
The president spoke from the White House, where he unveiled his revised reform proposal that incorporates ideas from both Democrats and Republicans who attended last week's health reform summit (Stolberg/Pear, New York Times, 3/3).
Although he did not specifically mention budget reconciliation, Obama implicitly endorsed the strategy when encouraging Democrats to move ahead without Republicans and pass a bill with a simple majority vote (Young/Youngman, The Hill, 3/3).
Obama rebuffed GOP criticism against using budget reconciliation to pass the reform initiative. He said, "Reform has already passed the House with a majority. It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of 60 votes." He added, "And now it deserves the same kind of up or down vote that was cast on welfare reform, that was cast on the Children's Health Insurance Program, that was used for COBRA health coverage for the unemployed and, by the way, for both Bush tax cuts -- all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority" (New York Times, 3/3).
However, Obama acknowledged the risk in moving overhaul legislation without at least some bipartisan support. He said, "I do not know how this plays politically, but I know it's right," adding, "Let's get it done" (Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 3/4).
According to the Times, lawmakers will have difficulty meeting Obama's new deadline.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) first must translate Obama's proposal into legislative language and then route the new bill to CBO for scoring before any action can be taken.
Although both Pelosi and Reid released statements on Wednesday praising Obama's effort to move forward on the initiative, neither committed to adopting Obamaâs language nor did they mention the timeline.
Republicans continued to criticize the implied use of budget reconciliation to secure passage of a reform bill.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined other top Republicans in pledging to campaign for the midterm elections on repealing the reform bill if it passes (Fabian, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 3/3).Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) also voiced his intentions to push to repeal a Democratic reform bill (Rushing, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 3/3). 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.