Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D - NV) asked President Barack Obama to meet with Senate Democrats and two Independents in a closed door meeting today to discuss passing the pending Senate health care bill. Democrats only need to unite all sixty votes from their caucus in order to break any filibuster that could endanger the passage of the bill.
While at least five liberals in their caucus are adamant about the having a public option or some form of government run health care insurance, five moderates among the group of sixty have voiced their opinion against having any kind of government run health insurance program. Other issues include abortion, cost, and Medicare cuts. Senator Reid told reporters today he’s called on both factions to come to a consensus of some kind.
“We’re working toward a consensus,” Senator Reid told reporters at a press briefing. “We’re not there.”
Senator Joe Liberman (D-CT) emerged from the meeting telling reporters the president made no mention of the public option whatsoever. Senator Reid downplayed Mr. Lieberman’s claim saying,:
“Sentaor Lieberman said that to me after the meeting also, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue also.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) criticized the Democrats closed door meeting with the president today.:
“The fact the that the President of the United States is meeting with Democrats only tells you where this debate has gone. Earlier in the year there was talk of producing a bill that eighty of one hundred senators could support, doing it on a truly bi-partisan basis, but instead, as you know, as you followed this over the weeks and months, it drifted off into a completely partisan effort,” said the minority leader.
After noting the bill would take half a trillion dollar cuts out of Medicare and cost the taxpayers four hundred billion dollars he continued,:
“So here we are a few weeks before Christmas with the Democrats trying to squeeze every single one of their members to swallow a pretty bitter pill for the American people.”
Senator Dick Durbin (D – Ill.) blew off GOP criticism, claiming Republicans are the ones who have turned their backs on the Democrats.
“We’d love to have them, but how many times have we opened the door and they’ve slammed it in our face? I mean look at the record. Of all the votes taken on health care reform now, here is the grand total of Republican participation: one Republican congressman from New Orleans who voted for the bill…one Republican Senator from Maine who voted for it in the finance committee. That’s it. We have made every effort and will continue to, but for them to say they haven’t been invited to partake…we have invited them, and they have refused to participate.”
Monday’s healthcare vote may include an amendment to cut the abortion funding found in the Senate’s version of the health care bill.