Obama Invites Democrats and Republicans to Discuss Health Care – on TV
If you think you heard the popular Black Eyed Peas singing the line “Meet me halfway,” it could have been coming from the White House.
President Obama is pushing lawmakers to restart the stalled overhaul of the U.S. health care system by inviting Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate to a half-day meeting on February 25.
The discussion will allow “Republicans and Democrats to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward,” Obama said last week – and he wants the discussion to be broadcast live. The President said he wants to look at “very specific” ideas that Republicans present.
However, the President’s invitation may not win over the Republicans leaders, who have said they want to scrap the bill and start again. “If we are to reach a bipartisan consensus, the White House can start by shelving the current health-spending bill,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“There are a number of issues with bipartisan support that we can start with when the 2,700-page bill is put on the shelf,” said McConnell. House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) agreed, saying the “best way to start on real bipartisan reform would be to scrap those (House and Senate) bills.”
With Congress in recess until February 22, it’s still uncertain if the proposed televised discussion will take place. If the President refuses to scrap the pending Democrat-supported proposals, Republicans may refuse to participate – which might help the President.
Conversely, it will be difficult for Democrats to abandon key proposals that they fought for and voted for in the House-passed and Senate-passed bills – which makes any compromise a daunting challenge during an election year.
SHRM’s prediction: health care reform is not going away.
This is an issue we all need to stay abreast of because several key players in the Obama Administration and in Congress are determined to get a bill to the President’s desk this year. More to come.