With A Day Of Meetings, Democratic Leaders Focus On Health Bill
Roll Call: "President Barack Obama plans to have a substantive discussion with Democratic Congressional leaders about reconciling the House and Senate health care bills when he meets with them Tuesday evening, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., will attend the meeting in person while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. -- both of whom are not in Washington -- will attend by phone (Koffler, 1/5).
Reuters: "Talking with reporters after a Capitol Hill meeting with fellow Democratic leaders, Pelosi said measures earlier passed by the House and Senate could be unified into legislation that would revamp the U.S. healthcare system" (Cowan and Ferraro, 1/5).
Market News International: "Pelosi said Tuesday that congressional Democrats will 'do what is necessary' to craft and pass comprehensive health care legislation this year." She also noted that "there is 'much that we have in common'" between the House- and Senate-passed health measures. But "Pelosi declined to say if Democrats will avoid convening a House-Senate conference committee to avoid procedural complications and instead have the House amend the health care bill that was passed by the Senate on Dec. 24" (1/5).
CongressDaily: "House Republican leaders and some members of the House Democratic Caucus are lashing out at plans by congressional leaders to develop compromise healthcare legislation without going through a formal conference committee." Republican said the approach "shuts out the American people and breaks one of President Obama's signature campaign promises." But some Democrats also expressed their displeasure. "'I am disappointed that there will be no formal conference process by which various constituencies can impact the discussion. I have not been approached about my concerns with the Senate bill, and I will be raising those at the Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday,' said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus."
Democrats are considering bypassing a formal conference committee "to sidestep procedural delays by Republicans." Pelosi huddled with key committee chairmen to discuss how to proceed. "Democratic aides said the main focus was what guarantees the House would demand in any plan to bypass a formal conference" (House and Edney, 1/5).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.