Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Final Push, Obama Urges ‘Up-or-Down’ Vote on Health

This afternoon, President Obama began his final push for passage of a health care reform bill, which he urged Congress to pass "in the next few weeks." Although he did not use the term "reconciliation," he made clear that Democrats intend to use that parliamentary procedure if necessary in order to obtain an "up or down vote" on the proposal. Obama now plans to barnstorm for the bill, beginning in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

A New York Times report on the President's speech can be found here, and the full text of his remarks is here. If you'd like to watch the 20 minute speech, you can find it here on the White House Youtube channel.

As the Times reports, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately rejected the President's call for passage of the bill:
Mr. McConnell said the president was defying the will of the public by pushing forward. “This is not an argument between Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “This is an argument between Democrats and the American people.”
Mr. McConnell said health care could become a “national referendum” in the November elections if Democrats don’t change course.
A report on The Plum Line says that the Republicans intend to unleash a huge wave of robocalls in swing districts warning of a Democratic plot to "ram" the bill through Congress.

For a very useful account of the "bumpy road" that the Democratic proposal still has to travel to become law, see this item from the Times's Prescriptions blog.

Update: That blog has several interesting posts on Thursday that describe Obama's efforts to round up enough votes from House Democrats, including fiscal conservatives and abortion opponents. For an account of his meeting today with progressives, who also have strong concerns about the bill, see this item from The Hill.

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