WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is telling Democrats not to "jam" a health care overhaul bill through Congress, instead urging them to coalesce around popular parts of the bill.
In an interview with ABC News, Obama said Wednesday that Congress must wait for newly elected Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown to be sworn into office before lawmakers move forward.
Brown won his election Tuesday to fill the seat long occupied by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Brown will end the super-majority that would have allowed Democrats to pass Obama's top domestic priority over united opposition from Republicans.
Brown campaigned against the proposed health care overhaul.
ABC News also reported, "President Obama said today that he feels he lost a direct connection to the American people in his first year in office because he focused too heavily on policy-making."
"If there's one thing that I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values," Obama told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview at the White House.
Read more details here.
Here's the full transcript, via ABC News:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you do it now? This strategy that a lot of people have talked about getting the House to pass the Senate bill. Speaker Pelosi yesterday seemed to say that this was kind of a non-starter.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, here's , here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table. The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated. People in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process. So...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Number one...
OBAMA: That, that's point number one. I think point number two is that it is very important to look at the substance of this package and for the American people to understand that a lot of the fear mongering around this bill isn't true. I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don't, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill.