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Gibbs Says This Is the Week for Health Care Reform to Become Law, But House Still Short of Votes

Source: Washington Post

Posted on 15 Mar 2010

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In the Sunday morning talk shows, as one House Democratic leader admitted that Democrats are still lacking votes on NBC's "Meet the Press", White House press secretary Robert Gibbs proclaimed on CBS' "Face the Nation" that "this is the week" that the House will pass the Senate's health-care reform bill and send it to President Obama's desk for his signature. The House is expected to vote on the Senate bill late in the week.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) cautioned that "as of this morning" House Democrats don't have the votes to pass the Senate bill, but he is "very confident that we will get this done."

Gibbs said the president is talking to Senate leaders to make sure the upper chamber will take up and pass a reconciliation bill to modify the Senate legislation in order to satisfy the concerns of Democratic House members. He also said the "special deals" that the president found objectionable, such as Nebraska's exemption from paying its share of the proposed Medicaid expansion that helped to secure Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-NE) earlier vote on the bill, "are indeed out of" the reconciliation bill.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), also appearing on "Face the Nation," called the Democratic plan to pass health-care reform through budget reconciliation "the most brazen act of political arrogance that I can remember since the Watergate era." He pledged that Republican senators will "certainly offer a large number of amendments" and "go sentence by sentence through this 3,000-page bill to make sure rules are followed" during the reconciliation process.

Earlier on "Fox News Sunday," Gibbs predicted that by this time next week the health-care bill will be "the law of the land," and he welcomed the prospect that the 2010 midterm elections would be a referendum on health-care reform. "We believe health-care reform is going to pass," Gibbs said. "Once it passes we're happy to have the 2010 election be about the achievement of health care-reform. That's obviously a debate we're comfortable having."