President Set To Meet With Senate Democrats on Health Care Reform
After weeks of publicly focusing on the economy and the war in Afghanistan, President Obama this week is poised to begin an "intense but largely behind-the-scenes" campaign to push the Senate into passing its health care reform bill (HR 3590) before Christmas, Roll Call reports (Koffler, Roll Call, 12/15).
Obama's strategy involves a meeting with the entire Senate Democratic caucus Tuesday evening that is expected to focus on health care reform (Pierce, Roll Call, 12/14). The meeting marks the first time during the reform debate that Obama invited all Senate Democrats to meet together at the White House, the New York Times' "Prescriptions" reports (Zeleny, "Prescriptions," New York Times, 12/14).
Obama also might meet individually with senators later in the week, including moderate Republicans such as Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) (Roll Call, 12/15).
During the meeting, Obama is expected to use "increasingly apocalyptic terms" to convince senators that if he is unable to achieve a health care overhaul with a 60-vote majority in the Senate and a large Democratic majority in the House, no other president will attempt an overhaul in the future, Politico's "44" reports.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said, "If President Obama doesn't pass health reform, it's hard to imagine another president ever taking on this Herculean task," adding, "For those whose life's work is reforming health care, this may be the last train leaving the station" ("44," Politico, 12/15).
The White House also dismissed charges that Obama so far has played a passive role in the debate over a health care overhaul.White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will continue to lead the administration's push for the bill, with Legislative Affairs Director Phil Schiliro, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina continuing to play strong lobbying roles (Roll Call, 12/15). 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.