Pelosi says Obama has the votes to pass health reform

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama has the votes in the House of Representatives to force his flagship reform of US healthcare through without Republican support, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday.
Pelosi, in an interview with ABC television’s “This Week” program, said Democrats would succeed in passing a bill despite concerted Republican efforts to derail Obama’s top domestic priority ahead of crucial mid-term elections.
“We’re here to do the job for the American people — to get them results that gives them not only health security, but economic security, because the health issue is an economic issue for America’s families,” she said.
After months of wrangling, the House and the Senate adopted different versions of a reform bill late last year but they must be combined into a single piece of legislation for Obama to sign into law.
Obama is widely expected to announce in the coming days that he is prepared to use a process known as reconciliation to force a bill through Congress against Republican objections.
This process would require the House to pass the Senate bill and also the Senate to pass a second bill making amendments to their version of the legislation to reconcile outstanding differences between Democrats.
Pelosi, the most senior Democrat in the House, answered “yes” when asked by ABC whether she had the votes to pass the Senate bill.
“Time is up. We really have to go forth,” Pelosi said, adding that the country could not wait any longer for a bill that would also bring a host of economic benefits to American families.
Obama made one final effort to break the deadlock on Thursday with a televised summit at the White House with Democratic and Republican leaders.
But the high-stakes, day-long meeting yielded no breakthrough with Republicans insisting the reforms go back to the drawing-board and Democrats painting the opposition as simply obstructionist.
On Saturday Obama used his weekly address to again call for bipartisan support for attempts to overhaul the system and provide coverage to some 31 million uninsured Americans.
“It is time for us to act. It is time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities to the American people and to future generations,” he said.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president would make an announcement early this coming week laying out “where he sees the path moving forward.”
The House and Senate have failed to agree a single piece of legislation for Obama to sign into law.
Republicans derailed the process last month by capturing a crucial Massachusetts Senate seat that gave them the power to thwart final votes using a legislative tactic called a filibuster.
With crucial mid-term elections lying ahead in November, Obama knows he can’t wait much longer before either forcing through his present reform package or having a major rethink.

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