Pelosi Says Dems Will Need ‘Courage’ to Pass Healthcare Reform
March 1, 2010
(ChattahBox)—If the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was the “Lion of the Senate,” then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is certainly the Lioness of the House. And once again, the passage of healthcare reform is going to come down to the leadership abilities of Pelosi, to unite her Democratic caucus behind the effort. During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Pelosi acknowledged that voting yes to the bill will take “courage” for many of her vulnerable members serving conservative districts. With a disparate group of House Democrats, ranging from the extreme left, extreme right and everything in between, Pelosi will need to muster her cat herding skills to pass the Senate bill, as is, before it can be revised through reconciliation in the Senate. And despite the enormity of the task being placed on Pelosi’s shoulders, White House adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle, said over the weekend that she believes the House has the necessary votes.
During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press, “DeParle said that President Obama is considering other options to pass healthcare reform, but is likely to advise House and Senate leaders this week to pursue the course of passing the imperfect Senate bill in the House, without amendments, and then fixing it with an up-or-down simple majority vote in the Senate.
It won’t be an easy process. If the Senate bill does manage to squeak by in the House, Senate Republicans have promised to employ various delaying tactics to stall the reconciliation vote. But, we don’t vote for our elected officials to come to Washington to take the path of least resistance. Anything worthwhile is hard to achieve. And while lawmakers argue over the merits of healthcare reform, more people are dying from the lack of health insurance in this country.
And DeParle pushed back against the false claims made by Republicans that the reconciliation process is some sort of unprecedented parliamentary procedure, considering that Republicans used it nearly 20 times to pass major pieces of legislation:
“The healthcare reform has already passed both the House and the Senate with not only a majority in the Senate but a super majority, and we’re not talking about changing any rules here. All the president is talking about is, do we need to address this problem and, and does it make sense to have a simple up or down vote on whether or not we want to fix these problems?”
Pelosi pointed out during her interview that lawmakers are elected to help the American people:
“Why are we here? We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re here to do the job for the American people; to get them results that give them not only health security but economic security, because the health issue is an economic issue for America’s families.”
Pelosi pointed out that every piece of sweeping piece of legislation takes courage:
“Well, first of all, our members — every one of them — wants health care. I think everybody wants affordable health care for all Americans. They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.”
DeParle seemed optimistic about the passage of healthcare reform. And it’s clear that this time around President Obama is taking a direct role in the process.
“I believe that we will have the votes to pass this in Congress,” DeParle said. Asked if the votes were already secured, DeParle responded, “The president will have more to say about that later this week, and he’s working with the Congress on how best to address that.”
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) said the House vote could happen within the month.