Last year, the president addressed both chambers of Congress on two different occasions – in February and again in September. The latter speech was wholly based on his health reform effort, which at the time had hit some snags.
He predicted a hard road in that first speech to Congress. “I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process,” he said at the time.
Though made a year earlier, it proved a prescient comment. Throughout 2009, Congress spent an unbroken amount of time crafting legislation to reshape the $2.3 trillion healthcare system only to see the effort pull up lame over the past several weeks.
Now, some senators maintain the House should take up the Senate's agenda, and amend it if necessary.
“I think the House should just pass the Senate bill,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said. He offered that there may be some attempt to amend the bill through a procedure that would allow for passage on a simple majority vote. “But clearly the House can pass the Senate bill and the Senate's bill is a good bill,” he said.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was more optimistic about getting a bill to the president's desk through this route.
Approving the Senate bill through the procedure, known as reconciliation, “is the only solution,” Baucus said, adding the Senate “was close” in getting enough votes to pass it.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the House's leadership team, said that Obama's message gave the reform effort “a needed boost at a time when some people were beginning to question whether we would finish the job.”
Van Hollen said the House is in constant contact with the Senate to best craft a way to move a reform bill.
Other lawmakers also said that the hard push for reform could benefit from a some stand-down time.
“We all know we've been trying to get healthcare done since Teddy Roosevelt,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said in comments made earlier in the day. “So a few more weeks isn't a long period of time in the context of how tough a fight this is when you go up against the special interest. We'll do it and we'll do it in the right way.”
Reporter Jennifer Lubell contributed to this report.
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