President Barack Obama put an expiration date on health reform negotiations, saying that it won't drag into next year and will skip a second round of committee hearings.
Not another year of wrangling: Obama
“What I will not do—what I don't think makes sense and I don't think the American people want to see—would be another year of partisan wrangling around these issues,” Obama said during a rare, unannounced White House news conference. The president added that he would not tolerate a round of committee hearings in both the House and Senate, “in which there is a lot of posturing.”
“Let's get the relevant parties together,” he said. “Let's put the best ideas on the table. My hope is that we can find enough overlap that we can say, ‘This is the right way to move forward even if I don't get every single thing that I want.' ”
Obama said that a final reform package must rein in healthcare costs, expand health insurance and lower the federal deficit—tenets he has espoused before when pitching his vision for overhauling the U.S. healthcare system.
“We had a package, as we work through the differences between the House and Senate … that meets those goals,” Obama said.
Legislation has been at an impasse on Capitol Hill. In the Senate, Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority after Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown won the seat once held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Obama has called for a bipartisan health reform summit for Feb. 25.
“The public has soured on the process that they saw over the last year,” Obama said. “I think that actually contaminates how they view the substance of the bills. I think it is important for all these issues to be aired so that people have confidence—if we're moving forward on such a significant part of the econcomy as healthcare—that there is complete transparency and all these issues have been adequately vetted and adequately debated.”
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