Obama vents frustration at Senate delays

December 23, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama on Wednesday expressed frustration with the way the Senate does business, saying the use of delaying tactics there harms the nation’s ability to “deal with big problems in a very competitive world.”
“Other countries are going to start running circles around us,” Obama said in a White House interview with PBS. “We’re going to have to return to some sense that governance is more important than politics inside the Senate.”

Obama’s critique of his former Senate colleagues came just as his allies there were on the cusp of giving him what he wants: passage of a Senate health care bill.

The bare-minimum bloc of 60 senators—all 58 Democrats and two independents—voted to end a GOP filibuster and move toward final passage Thursday.

Obama said the use of that vote-stalling tactic, which requires 60 votes to cut off debate, has been imposed in an “unheard of” routine fashion. He said it’s problematic regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress, but conceded that, as president, he doesn’t have much power to do anything about it.

As for the health care bill, the version the Senate is expected to pass must still be reconciled with a House-passed measure.

Obama pledged to take a hands-on role in reconciling the two.

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