Some Democrats Cautious As Leaders Line Up Health Votes – GOP Slams Dem Approach
In addition to GOP resistance, the Democratic party faces internal opposition to some aspects of health reform legislation.
The New York Times: "The future of President Obama's health care overhaul now rests largely with two blocs of swing Democrats in the House of Representatives - abortion opponents and fiscal conservatives - whose indecision signals the difficulties Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces in securing the votes necessary to pass the bill." In addition to the Blue Dogs, a fiscally conservative Democratic voting bloc, some lawmakers such as Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., may hold out for tougher anti-abortion language. Stupak's amendment to the House version included such language, but Obama's latest proposal has stripped it (Stolberg and Pear, 2/27).
The New York Times, in a separate story: "The wrangling over health care thus seemed likely to drag on at least through March, slowing further action on other matters and keeping political tempers high. The unified Republican opposition has showed no sign of wavering. If anything, Democrats said, the [summit] meeting Thursday confirmed their belief that differences were so profound that it was futile to try to work with Republicans on a major health care bill. Indeed, (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell said Sunday on CNN that even a significant concession to Republicans - such as the addition of language to limit malpractice suits against health-care providers - would not win over Republicans" (Knowlton and Berger, 2/28).
Meanwhile, Obama continues to say he is prepared to compromise with Republicans, the Associated Press reports. "I am eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties on health care" he said Saturday during his weekly Internet and radio address. But, the AP notes, "[s]uccess will require colossal efforts on the part of Obama and Democratic leaders to round up votes. ... Obama and the Democrats reject the piecemeal approach sought by Republicans and have no intention of scrapping their 10-year, $1 trillion bill and starting over, as the GOP demands (Werner, 2/28).
Financial Times: "Republicans kept up their calls for the bill to be scrapped. 'Unfortunately, even before the summit took place, the majority in Congress signaled its intent to reject our offers to work together,' said Tom Coburn, a Republican senator from Oklahoma and a medical doctor, who participated in the summit. 'Instead they want to use procedural tricks and backroom deals to ram through a new bill that combines the worst aspects of the bills the Senate and House passed last year,' said Dr. Coburn in the Republicans' weekly address" (Fifield, 3/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.