LoginCreate an account

  Username: Password:

Deadline broken, talks continue for health bill

E-mail Print PDF
User Rating: / 59

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is likening overhaul of the nation's health care system to one of the government's greatest triumphs: the NASA program that landed astronauts on the moon 40 years ago.

If Obama's initiative is to be anywhere near as successful, it will be by small steps taken in a divided Congress right now. No giant leaps are in sight.

Senate Democrats on Thursday demonstrated the challenges anew, formally killing off plans to vote on a health bill before Congress goes on its August recess. That broke a deadline Obama had set.

"People keep on saying, 'Wow, this is really hard. Why are you taking it on?' You know, America doesn't shirk from a challenge," Obama said during a town hall meeting in Ohio.

Referencing President John F. Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon, Obama said, "There were times where people said, 'Oh, this is foolish, this is impossible.'"

Now may be one of those times in Obama's young presidency.

But the president played down the announcement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that action on the Senate floor would be delayed until September at the earliest.

"That's OK," the president said. "I just want people to keep on working. Just keep working."

Obama envisions legislation that would, for the first time, require all Americans to be insured. A new government insurance program would compete with private insurers, and insurance companies would be barred from excluding people with pre-existing conditions. The goals are to hold down costs and extend coverage to most of the 50 million uninsured. The price tag: $1 trillion-plus over a decade.

Obama planned to meet in the Oval Office on Friday with Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is leading a group of a half-dozen Democratic and Republican senators laboring to produce a bipartisan bill.

Even while announcing the Senate vote would be delayed, Reid said the Finance Committee would act on its portion of the bill before lawmakers' monthlong break after the first week of August.

It can't be fast enough for some of the Senate's more liberal Democrats, who are chafing over the repeated delays by the Finance Committee and grousing that they can't be expected to support whatever legislation the committee produces.

Finance Committee negotiators are looking at a bill that would not go far enough for some Democrats in embracing some liberal goals, like the new public insurance plan, that were included in legislation passed by the Senate's health committee. Finance Committee members are looking at nonprofit co-ops instead. The two measures would have to be merged.

"The Finance Committee keeps dragging their feet and dragging their feet and dragging their feet. It's time for them to fish or cut bait," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a member of the health committee, said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. "The people of America voted for Barack Obama last year to lead this country and make changes."

Divisions among Democrats in the House are threatening the schedule there, too. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has postponed work on the legislation since Monday while he negotiates with seven Democrats who are members of a group of fiscal conservatives called the Blue Dogs.

The group, which wants more cost-cutting in the House bill that has already passed two other committees, spent hours Thursday meeting with Waxman, House Democratic leaders and White House officials including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. At the end of the day, one of the Blue Dogs, Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., said that he'd heard some encouraging ideas, though he declined to give details.

House Democrats from various parts of the country are also asking for changes to address regional discrepancies in Medicare reimbursement rates. Democratic leaders met into the night Thursday with a group of them.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed confidence in the ultimate outcome. "We will take the bill to the floor when it is ready, and when it is ready, we will have the votes to pass it," she said.

Pelosi spoke after a contentious leadership meeting where Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat, called for canceling the August recess if a bill isn't passed. Pelosi didn't rule that out.

"I'm not afraid of August," she said. "It's a month."

Democratic leaders say it's all part of the legislative process, but Republicans are latching on to the disarray in delight. The Republican National Committee has taken to issuing news releases headlined "Chaos" that highlight disagreements within the Democrats' ranks.


Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Ben Evans, Ken Thomas and Ann Sanner contributed to this report.


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.


The Axe Files with David Axelrod
David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, brings you The Axe Files, a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. Go beyond the soundbites and get to know some of the most interesting players in politics.
  • Ep. 52 - Katie Couric
    Katie Couric, global anchor for Yahoo News, sits down with David in her New York apartment to discuss her wide-ranging journalism career from 9/11 to “The Today Show” to her 2008 interview with Sarah Palin, her views on the current media landscape, and the 1998 death of her husband Jay after a nine-month battle with colon cancer.
  • Ep. 51 - Samantha Power
    Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, chats with David in New York about growing up in Ireland, how she went from a sports reporter at Yale to writing a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on U.S. foreign policy, and her take on the Obama administration's approach to conflicts in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere.

  • Ep. 50 - Michael Nutter
    Michael Nutter, former mayor of Philadelphia, speaks with David about going from nightclub disc jockey to City Council representative to mayor of the country’s fifth-largest city, his views on how to improve community policing, and his take on a possible Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton general election.
FOX News
FOXNews.com - Breaking news and video. Latest Current News: U.S., World, Entertainment, Health, Business, Technology, Politics, Sports.
FOX News
  • Would you eat this in space?
    Would you like red pepper risotto in a place where everything around you is floating in space?
  • Americans are fatter than ever, CDC survey finds
    The results are in from the one of the largest and broadest surveys of health in the United States. And although many of the findings are encouraging -- more Americans had health insurance and fewer smoked cigarettes in 2015 than in previous years -- the gains were overshadowed by rising rates of obesity and diabetes.
  • BMX biker Dave Mirra diagnosed with CTE
    Iconic BMX biker Dave Mirra was found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the same brain disease that has been diagnosed in a number of former professional football players, including Junior Seau and Ken Stabler. Mirra is the first extreme sport athlete to be diagnosed with the disease.

    Drivers With No Tickets In 3 Years Read This
    Do NOT pay your next car insurance bill until you try this.



mySSnews Login

User Menu