In an interview with ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was noncommittal when asked directly whether Democrats had locked down the 217 votes necessary to pass health care reform in the House.
“Well right now we’re working on the — on the policy,” Pelosi said in response. “The — the president put a — a — I think a good proposal on the Internet on Sunday. We’re examining that very carefully to make sure it has all the affordability we need for the middle class. All the accountability for the insurance industry. I — from the meeting on Thursday — the summit meeting, I — I believe that we’re ready for the next step, which is to write legislative language, and then go from there.”
(READ THE TRANSCRIPT HERE).
But Pelosi was clear the health-care reform bill must pass, no matter the consequences:
Pelosi urged her colleagues to back a major overhaul of U.S. health care even if it threatens their political careers, a call to arms that underscores the issue’s massive role in this election year.
Lawmakers sometimes must enact policies that, even if unpopular at the moment, will help the public, Pelosi said in an interview being broadcast Sunday the ABC News program “This Week.”
“We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress,” she said. “We’re here to do the job for the American people.
In an interview with CNN, Pelosi clarified that “We’re going to pass a health care bill. [...] We’ll have a very positive result, and it will be great for the American people.”
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee warned Democrats Sunday that forcing the health care bill through using the process of reconciliation would be politically disastrous.
“For the rest of the year we’re going to be involved in a campaign to repeal it,” Alexander said on This Week. Using the budgetary process known as reconciliation to overcome a Republican filibuster, he said, would be a “political kamikaze mission.”
Alexander, the Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, was echoing comments he made last year when he was justifying using parliamentary tactics to delay a vote on the health care bill.
“We’re very unified and have been, but the reason we are is we see the Democrats determined to pursue a political kamikaze mission toward a historic mistake,” he told ABC’s Top Line in December.
He has made similar comments on the Senate floor.