House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reiterated her commitment to passing comprehensive health care reform during a conference call this afternoon, describing the measure as a “first among equals” in Congress’ broader jobs agenda. Pelosi insisted that she would have the votes to pass the Senate health care bill in the House if the upper chamber fist passed a reconciliation package of fixes.
“Don’t even ask us to consider passing the Senate bill until the other legislation has passed both houses so that we’re sure that it has happened, and that we know that what we would be voting for would be as effected by a reconciliation bill or whatever parliamentary initiative they have at their disposable,” Pelosi said in response to a question by TPMDC’s Brian Beutler.
Pelosi said that that “there are some pieces of legislation we can pass in tandem with the comprehensive bill” and predicted that the House would repeal insurers’ anti trust exemption next week.
Asked if the reconciliation package should include a public option, Pelosi said that the package would likely “be predicated on those areas of agreement that were signed off on before.” “The Senate never supported a public option. There is talk that yes, there would be 51 votes for it, but it never passed on the floor of the Senate.” “I have Senators calling me saying, ‘why don’t you put in a single payer?’ And then others saying, ‘why don’t you put in a public option’? Well, is there really a market in the Senate for these things?,’ Pelosi asked, adding “well, and then what, and then what?”
Pelosi reiterated that “we will not be deterred from getting something done, one way or another” and refused to discuss a ‘plan B’ if the Senate did not pass a reconciliation package. “Just because we reach a bump in the road, doesn’t mean we turn back, or that we just say, ‘let’s just cut it up in little pieces and throw it out there” Pelosi added. “We will get the job done for the American people one way or another. The best, and the way I’m committed to and my members are, is to pass the comprehensive bill.”
“For me, it’s not been a back burner. It’s right there in the same pot with jobs….All the burners are running on this stove.”