Obama Still Open to Using Reconciliation Process
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Jul 21, 2009 at 08:11:41 AM EDT
Thanks to everyone for sending me questions to ask President Obama on the topic of healthcare during today's conference call with bloggers. I did manage to send one his way -- whether he is open to using the process of reconciliation to lower the vote threshold in the Senate from 60 to 50 (plus the Vice President) -- and interestingly enough he said he was.
I am having some difficulty uploading audio to MyDD right now (Update:John Amato has now posted the audio of the entire call), but for now here's the rush transcript of my exchange with the President:
Jonathan Singer: Well thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Mr. President. Given the timeline and the fact that it seems like bills may not be through both the House and Senate by the August recess, is there a point at which you would say to the Senate, "Sixty votes doesn't seem like it's going to happen. Use the reconciliation process. Lower the threshold so the Republicans cannot delay the process." I know that's not optimal. But is there a point at which you would say that to the Senate?
President Obama: Keep in mind that the way we had structured the reconciliation issue several months ago, we moved forward on the basis of the assumption that we can get a bill through the regular order and the regular process by October. If I think that that is not possible, then we are going to look at all of our options, including reconciliation. Not because that's my preferred option, but because what I think will be unacceptable for the American people is inaction at a time when we have been seeing families bankrupted, businesses straining under the cost of healthcare, and in the absence of action, a continuation of Medicare and Medicaid trajectory that is unsustainable.
Now in fairness, I do think that what you're seeing right now is really serious hard work on the part of members of the Senate, and those on the Finance Committee. And although I may not agree with every single decision that may be made, in any of the committees, I think that folks really are working overtime, and I appreciate the work that they've done.
And I remain confident that we can pass a bill in the absence of reconciliation. But I do think that the bottom line for me is give the American people a serious reform package that lowers costs, increases choices, covers Americans, improves quality, changes our delivery system in a way that's rational and makes our healthcare system a lot smarter and efficient than it is right now. And I think that's achievable and I continue to believe that there are enough people of good faith who want to see that happen that we're going to get it done through the regular process.
[THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.]