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Pelosi Talks Health Care

January 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] speaking to reporters today, via TPM DC:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just told reporters that she does not believe she has enough votes in the House to pass the Senate health care reform bill as-is — at least not yet.

“I don’t see the votes for it at this time,” Pelosi said. “The members have been very clear in our caucus about the fact that they didn’t like it before it had the Nebraska provision and some of the other provisions that are unpalatable to them.”

“In every meeting that we have had, there would be nothing to give me any thought that that bill could pass right now the way that it is,” she said. “There isn’t a market right now for proceeding with the full bill unless some big changes are made.”

While she didn’t say the option was dead — “Everything is on the table,” she said — she outlined two very different options for passing a bill.

“There’s a recognition that there’s a foundation in that bill that’s important. So one way or another those areas of agreement that we have will have to be advanced, whether it’s by passing the Senate bill with any changes that can be made, or just taking [pieces of it],” Pelosi said.

“We have to get a bill passed — we know that. That’s a predicate that we all subscribe to.”

Contrary to some other interpretations, I don’t really think there’s a lot here. The most significant take away is probably that health care isn’t going to be finished in the next few days like it could have been if House Dems were willing to support the Senate bill. Sounds to me like Pelosi is working on rounding up the votes in the House to either pass the Senate bill as it is and leave it, or, more likely, to pass the Senate bill as it is and then pass a separate package of fixes using the budget reconciliation process. We already know that that approach has been gaining support in Congress over the past few days.

Finding a package of fixes to the Senate bill that can both strike the right balance to win 218 House votes and be eligible for budget reconciliation is not an easy task. It’s no real surprise that it’s not all figured out yet.

What’s your read?

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