Now On To Passing The Bill
Now that the bipartisan health care summit is behind them, Democratic congressional leaders return to the work with a new resolve to move the bill through the final stages.
The effort that had gone a bit slack was given new energy by President Obama's intervention. The summit assured several days of media coverage of health care leading up to it and a full day of focus Thursday.
Republicans, who suspected that the summit was nothing more than theater that needed to be played out before, Democrats forced the bill through using reconciliation, claimed vindication. They were certainly no closer to going along with the Democratic plan.
"I do not believe there will be any Republican support for this 2700 page bill," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate minority leader.
"We can't do it within the framework of a 2700 page bill. That's why the bill needs to be scrapped," suggested Rep. John Boehner, the House minority leader.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) complained that Obama, who chaired the meeting, "actually consumed more time than all of the Republicans combined."
The president had said early on that would be the case, noting that he was, after, the president.
Kyl said that it wasn't just details that Republicans objected to, but "the whole concept of the bill."
But that seemed just fine with Democrats. "Every Republican used the same talking points," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters after the meeting.
"I'm hopeful that something may come of it," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "I'm not overly optimistic that we will get Republican votes for the bill, but that doesn't mean we couldn't incorporate their ideas into legislation, should they put some on the table."
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted that Republicans had agreed that, philosophically, regulating insurance is a good idea. The only question remaining, therefore, is what regulations to put into place. He also observed that every Republican in the room had the kind of insurance that they were saying the American people don't want.
Reid pointed out the many points of agreement between the parties. "If logic has anything to do with reaching agreement, it should be pretty easy," he said.
Pelosi, meanwhile, made a forceful argument in favor of the Senate using reconciliation, a parliamentary procedure that precludes the filibuster and therefore allows a simple majority to prevail. But she didn't use the term.
"We can't say to [the American people], at the end of the day, well, we had an idea, we had a vision, we had a majority, but the process did not allow us to make a change for your lives. We need to have the courage to get the job done, and I think we will. And I think today took us a step closer to passing health care," she said.