Democratic Leaders Moving Ahead on Health Care

Greg Hitt
Wall Street Journal

Democratic congressional leaders appeared more determined Thursday to move forward on health overhaul legislation after several weeks of soul searching about whether to abandon the effort. “Move forward, we will,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) after the Blair House summit.

The day-long discussion didn’t appear to change any minds—of Republicans or Democrats—on the fundamental differences separating the parties. But Rep. Xavier Becerra (D., Calif.) said he expects there will be further Democratic efforts to get Republicans buy into the legislation. “I think in a very short time frame we can expect to have something percolate to the surface, in terms of a bipartisan opportunity,” he said. “If it’s going to happen, we’re going to know it quickly.”

Whether the overtures ultimately produce real bipartisan action remains to be seen. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said she wasn’t “not overly optimistic.” And for his part, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) said he couldn’t imagine a bipartisan effort that begins with negotiations off of the Democratic backed bill. ”We can’t do it within the framework of” those bills, he said.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) added “it’s not going to be possible…to come together” so long as Democrats reject the idea of starting over. He said the “whole concept” of the Democratic bills is “unacceptable to us and to the American people,” and he didn’t put much stock in the president’s offer to work across party lines. “I just don’t think the president was listening,” he said.

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