Pelosi Says If Senate Accepts Reconciliation, House Can Pass Health Bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told columnists Wednesday afternoon that "she could muster enough votes to pass the Senate version of health care reform if the upper chamber agreed to adjust the bill through the reconciliation process," the National Journal reports. "'What I'm saying to you is the Senate bill, stand-alone, I don't see any chance of it [passing the House],' she said. 'Reconciliation resolving some of the issues: then we can pass this thing'" (Brownstein, 1/27).
Earlier, The Washington Post / Reuters reported that Pelosi, D-Calif., said today that abandoning health care reform was not a possibility. "'Let's put it this way. The present (healthcare) system is unsustainable. We can no longer afford it. ... We will make every effort to have a health care bill. But we will make progress, whatever it is, one way or the other, we will go forward with that'" (Maler, 1/27).
ABC News / The Associated Press: Meanwhile, a White House aide told congressional staffers today that President Barack Obama will use Wednesday's State of the Union address "to reiterate his commitment to an ambitious remake of the nation's health care system." Though lawmakers will not likely hear a specific strategy for going forward, the aide said "the president would offer 'additional details' on his health care goals." Also today, Democrats received encouragement to push ahead on health reform from "groups as diverse as the nation's Catholic bishops and the head of the largest labor union federation" (Werner, 1/27).
The New York Times Prescriptions Blogs: Obama's speech will convey the "he remains resolute and committed to revamping the health care system" and "could not come at a more critical time for the health care legislation, which is effectively stalled in Congress" (Herszenhorn, 1/27).
Politics Daily Blog reports on the letter sent by the Catholic bishops to members of the House and the Senate. "In a strongly worded appeal that will test their political influence, especially with their pro-life and Republican allies, the Catholic bishops of the United States have told Congress to put politics aside and focus on the 'moral imperative' of passing universal health care. '"
The Catholic bishops described health care as "a basic human right" and called health care reform a "pro-life issue." "Although many pro-life groups joined Republicans in backing Brown's unlikely candidacy despite his pro-choice credentials ... the Catholic bishops stayed on the sidelines, and many were clearly as dismayed as the White House when Brown upended predictions and took the seat that had been held by Ted Kennedy for decades. Brown's position on abortion, and his vow to block health care reform, is the worst of all worlds from the hierarchy's perspective" (Gibson, 1/27).
The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: "The conference of bishops had been active in pursuing language restricting federal subsidies for health plans covering abortions in the House and Senate healthcare bill. ... [and] has also pushed for expanding access to affordable healthcare and removing barriers to access to healthcare for immigrants" (O'Brien, 1/26).