The White House has sent a letter to Congress formally inviting Republican and Democratic leaders to the February 25th health care summit. The letter lays out the rough framework for discussion and strongly implies that the President will unveil the final package of compromises between the Senate and House health care bills ahead of the meeting:
Since this meeting will be most productive if information is widely available before the meeting, we will post online the text of a proposed health insurance reform package. This legislation would put a stop to insurance company abuses, extend coverage to millions of Americans, get control of skyrocketing premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and reduce the deficit.
It is the President’s hope that the Republican congressional leadership will also put forward their own comprehensive bill to achieve those goals and make it available online as well.
While it’s unclear what exactly the White House is proposing, the letter’s phrasing — Obama hopes Republicans “will also put forward their won comprehensive bill” — suggests that the administration is planning on posting something beyond a set of principles or talking points.
Meanwhile, the Republican House Leadership has written a letter to President Obama asking him to suspend negotiations ahead of the summit. “[W]e were taken aback by a report in the Tuesday, February 9 edition of Politico stating that President Obama ‘hopes to walk into the Feb. 25 summit with an agreement in hand between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on a final Democratic bill, so they can move ahead with a reform package after the sit-down.’”
“To ensure we can move forward in good faith, we ask that you publicly disavow these reports and assure the American people that Democratic Leadership is not putting together any kind of backroom deal or plotting any kind of legislative trickery to pass it,” the letter said.
Mike Allen is reporting that “The text will be his preferred hybrid of the House and Senate versions.”