Pelosi Makes Case for Budget Reconciliation To Pass Health Reform
During an exclusive interview with Roll Call on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested that Democrats would not hesitate to use the parliamentary procedure of budget reconciliation to push a health care reform bill through the Senate with only 51 votes.
According to Roll Call, the Democrats' loss of a crucial seat in the Senate to Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) last month -- ending their 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the chamber -- has "revived" discussions in the party to bypass potential filibusters by the Republicans.
In recent weeks, Pelosi has rebuffed calls from the White House for the House to pass the Senate's reform bill (HR 3590) as it stands and instead has urged Senate Democrats to make revisions to the bill that would draw sufficient support in the House through a separate filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill.
Pelosi Open To Bipartisan Push on Health Reform
During the interview with Roll Call, Pelosi also said that she is looking forward to hearing the Republicans' ideas for health care reform at the Feb. 25 televised bipartisan summit with President Obama.
Pelosi said that if "good idea[s]" emerge from the Feb. 25 meeting that work "for the American people, we are receptive to that" (Dennis, Roll Call, 2/10).
Gregg Offers Compromise Solution
In a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, Senate Budget Committee ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) welcomed the president's proposal for the bipartisan health care summit as an opportunity to spur "constructive dialogue" for health reform legislation and offered his own package of low-cost solutions to the debate, Politico reports.
Gregg's package -- titled "CPR: Coverage, Prevention, Reform" -- aims to promote preventive care and pledges to extend catastrophic coverage for all families.
At the center of Gregg's reform blueprint is a proposal that would guarantee all residents access to low-premium policies that shield them against catastrophic costs and provides them with preventive benefits and disease management under the deductible, Politico reports.
In the letter to Obama, Gregg said that the House and Senate reform bills should not be the base platform for the upcoming bipartisan discussions and reiterated that resolutions that hinge on deficit-reduction and cost-containment must be priorities of the talks.
Gregg has not yet put his proposal into legislative language (Rogers, Politico, 2/10).
Boehner, Cantor Continue Opposition to Democrats' Bills
Meanwhile, in separate interviews with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) continued to criticize Obama's pursuit of bipartisan reform talks with the Senate and House bills as the starting platform for the Feb. 25 summit, Politico's "Live Pulse" reports.
Boehner said, "We've asked the President all year to scrap this big government-takeover bill and let's start with a clean sheet of paper. Let's find out where we've got common ground and let's try to do the common sense, step-by-step approach to making our current system work better."
Cantor said, "We've got to start with reducing health care costs, and there are a lot of ways that we can work in a bipartisan way to do that. The fact is, the bill that failed to pass the House, that is the Senate bill, as well as the bill that did pass the House, have been resoundingly rejected by the American people" (Frates, "Live Pulse," Politico, 2/10).
Ryan Suggests Less Government Key to ReformDuring an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, House Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) described health care reform legislation as a "fiscal train wreck" that could be resolved with more modest legislation that includes less federal government involvement. He said, "The architecture of this health care bill, which we believe, represents a government take over of the health care system -- we ought to scrap that, start over, and let's go down the list of fixing the problems that need fixing -- uninsurables, people who have preexisting conditions, making health care more affordable" (Shiner, "Live Pulse," Politico, 2/10). 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.