President Obama today called on Congress to schedule a vote on health care reform legislation this month, saying if lawmakers walk away it’s a problem “that will only get worse.”
The president said there remain major differences between the two political parties on health care but he doesn’t see how “another year of negotiations would help.”
“The United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform,” Obama said, urging lawmakers to “finish their work and schedule a vote in the next few weeks.”The president called for an “up or down” vote, without using the term reconciliation that congressional leaders plan to use to complete the work. He said it was the same sort of process used for welfare reform, children’s health care and both tax cuts pushed by President George W. Bush.
Obama stressed the health care bills already passed the House with a majority and the Senate with a “super majority” last year.
The East Room speech was planned to push congressional leaders toward agreement on the process for passing the Senate health care bill and then a smaller package of fixes to the measure via budget reconciliation.
“Now is the time to make a decision about how to finally reform health care so that it works,” Obama said. “This is where we’ve ended up. It incorporates the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans.”
Obama quipped that everyone has said everything that can be said about reform. He also summarized Republican proposals he yesterday outlined in a letter to Congress.
“The bottom line is our proposal is paid for,” Obama said, touting the relief for middle class families and subsidies for poor people to buy health insurance. He also said the final legislation drastically cuts the deficit.
He closed with, “Let’s get it done.”
Read Obama’s full prepared remarks here.
Late Update: As the speech concluded, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted that Obama will be “hitting the road next week for health insurance reform” with stops in Philadelphia Monday and St. Louis Wednesday.