Lawmakers are challenged to pass a final bill within weeks
In an effort to salvage the momentum of comprehensive health care reform moving through Congress, President Obama has taken initiative over the last month to re-engage lawmakers and reinforce the need to pass a bill quickly.
On Feb. 22, the White House released an 11-page blueprint for health care reform that is intended to serve as the basis for a compromise bill between the House and Senate. It also set the stage for a daylong bipartisan health care summit that took place in Washington, D.C., where the president met with lawmakers and made clear that he would continue to push for a deal, with or without the support of Republicans, within the next month or so.
Democrats were on track to pass a bill earlier this year, until an upset victory by Republican Scott Brown in the special election for Massachusetts' Senate seat threw the party off course, leaving them one vote shy of overcoming a Republican filibuster to pass a final bill.
Prior to the change in the Senate's composition, legislators were working on reconciling the differences between separate bills passed in the House and Senate, and preparing to circulate a compromise bill back through both chambers and ultimately to the president.
Tentatively, the House will now attempt to adopt the Senate-passed legislation as it stands, which would negate the need for any further action in the upper chamber. House Democrats, however, are reluctant to embrace this strategy and want, at the very least, assurances that the Senate will act afterwards to address their concerns with the legislation.
In the days and weeks to come, House and Senate leadership face an uphill battle lining up enough votes to accomplish a legislative victory for the president.
Read More from the March 2010 Edition of the AACR Cancer Policy Monitor: