President Obama, flanked by white-coated physicians at the White House, said Wednesday that he has made a good faith effort to Republicans and included many of their ideas, but that their refusal to meet him halfway means Democrats will now go it alone.
“I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform. We have debated this issue thoroughly, not just for a year, but for decades,” Obama said.
“I have therefore asked leaders in both of Houses of Congress to finish their work and schedule a vote in the next few weeks,” he said.
In other words, it’s a green light for reconciliation.
Obama didn’t use the word, but Democratic leaders agreed Wednesday that they would go ahead with the procedure.
“We are prepared to move forward using reconciliation,” a senior Democratic leadership aide told the Daily Caller.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, called the president’s speech a “call to action” and also confirmed that her party will use reconciliation “to improve the legislation, through a process used to enact key pieces of health and budget legislation by both Democrats and Republicans in the past.”
Republicans denounced the president, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, argued that the argument was not between Republicans and Democrats but “between Democrats and the American people.”
“The American people are not for this,” said McConnell, who added that repeal of the bill, if it “somehow passed,” would become a national platform for virtually every Republican candidate in this fall’s midterm elections.
The White House has been laying the groundwork for this moment for a few weeks, emphasizing their outreach to the GOP and their openness to new ideas.
Republicans, confident that they have the support of the majority of the public, have dismissed Obama’s appeals to bipartisanship as window-dressing on the White House’s determination to push the bill through Congress.
“The President’s modest changes to his takeover bill are like pouring a glass of fresh water into a polluted lake,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican.
But Obama, portraying Republicans as on the side of health insurance companies and himself on the side of the American people, said “to start over now could simply lead to delay that could last for another decade or even more.”
“Given these honest and substantial differences between the parties about the need to regulate the insurance industry and the need to help millions of middle-class families get insurance, I don’t see how another year of negotiations would help,” he said.
The president said he was moving forward on health care without regard to the political consequences.
“I’ll leave others to sift through the politics. Because that’s not what this is about,” he said.
Moments after Obama concluded his remarks, the White House announced that the president will travel to Philadelphia on Monday and to St. Louis on Wednesday of next week to promote the passage of a bill.
“I will do everything in my power to make the case for reform,” Obama said.
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