Democrats Alone Cannot Deliver Health Care Reform

July 27, 2009 - 4:08 AM
President Barack Obama's push to overhaul health care needs Republican votes, lawmakers from both parties say.
Washington (AP) - President Barack Obama's push to overhaul health care needs Republican votes, lawmakers from both parties say.
 
Democratic and GOP officials acknowledged Sunday that Obama's ambitious plan would not pass without the aid of a doubtful GOP, whose members are almost united against the White House effort.
 
"Look, there are not the votes for Democrats to do this just on our side of the aisle," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the chairman of the budget committee.
 
Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat and a member of the fiscally conservative "Blue Dogs," said he doubts the Democratic-controlled House could pass a proposal as it's drafted now.
 
"We have a long way to go," Cooper said.
 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, insisted she has the votes to move forward with the plan despite concerns among fiscally conservative fellow Democrats.
 
"When I take this bill to the floor, it will win. We will move forward, it will happen," said Pelosi, D-Calif.
 
Not so fast, Republicans said. Sensing a public uneasiness over the pace and price tag of the overhaul, Republicans said the longer the delay, the more the public understands the stakes of a policy that has vexed lawmakers for decades.
 
"We could have a plan in a few weeks if the goal is not a government takeover," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. "We've never seen the government operate a plan of any kind effectively and at the budgets we talked about."
 
Democrats countered that their plans -- and there are many iterations on Capitol Hill, as committees in the House and Senate work on versions -- would expand coverage without adding to the deficit. Even so, they are likely to leave for an August recess without a vote.
 
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said they are "80 percent" in agreement on what a final version will include and are making progress.
 
Obama adviser David Axelrod said, "Now, we're at the final 20 percent and we're trying to work through those details."
 
That final piece, however, will require GOP backing -- something Sen. Mitch McConnell said was unlikely. The Senate minority leader said congressional Democrats are having difficulty selling a health care bill to their own members.
 
"The only thing bipartisan about the measure so far is the opposition to it," said McConnell, R-Ky.
 
Conrad and DeMint spoke with ABC's "This Week." Cooper appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation." Pelosi and McConnell were interviewed for CNN's "State of the Union." Gibbs spoke on "Fox News Sunday." Axelrod appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" and CNN's "State of the Union."