The White House Full Court Press On Health Care
The Washington Post: The White House is setting March 18 as the deadline by which a final health reform bill should be passed by Congress. This deadline "means Congress would have exactly two weeks to pass a version of the existing Senate-approved bill in the House of Representatives and then pass a second bill filled with 'fixes' in both chambers." On Thursday, in an effort to move toward this goal, the president invited lawmakers to the White House. He "sat down with members of the minority and progressive caucuses" and with "members of the New Democrat Coalition. Both meetings will be closed to the press" (Murray, Montgomery and Shear, 3/4).
Reuters: "The day after Obama launched a last-ditch drive to pass a sweeping healthcare overhaul, he also summoned groups of liberal and moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives to meetings at the White House to seek their support. House Democratic leaders said they were confident they could win the 216 votes needed to pass the Senate-approved health bill even though about a dozen abortion rights opponents -- including some who voted for the bill in November -- say they would be willing to oppose it."
Obama's White House meetings on Thursday included 11 liberal House members and seven moderate House members (Whitesides and Heavey, 3/4).
The New York Times Prescriptions blog calls it a "full court press on health care" and lists the House lawmakers expected to be in attendance (Stolberg, 3/4).
USA Today: The meetings and related appearances are "all part of the administration's efforts to get the House to adopt the Senate health care bill over the next few weeks, the first step toward final passage" (Jackson, 3/4).
The Associated Press: But, although House Democratic leaders are pushing for a health care vote in the next three weeks, some "conceded Thursday they may not meet President Barack Obama's challenge for swift action. ... Democratic leaders are contending with a host of undecided lawmakers who want to see the fine print before making a decision. [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer said final language and a cost estimate should come back from the Congressional Budget Office by the end of next week." But he also said "'the world doesn't fall apart' if that timeline isn't met" (Werner, 3/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.