Dingell To Dems: Time Is Of The Essence On Health Care

January 22, 2010 10:59 a.m.

The longest serving member of the House of Representatives says Democrats need to act quickly to pass reform, and that the best way forward may be “Plan B”: to pass the Senate health care bill along with a separate bill amending it in a variety of ways. But after conversations with his colleagues he thinks members aren’t quite ready to settle on any course of action.

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI)–the Dean of the House–thinks Democrats should first put Republicans on the spot opposing the bill, then move ahead without them.

“They can go to conference,” Dingell told me in an interview this afternoon. “Bring the Republicans in. They’ve been whining about the need to have transparency, let them get up there and say that they oppose this bill before the people.”Once that exercise is over, though, Dingell says Democrats should bare down and pass the Senate bill. “I don’t foreclose the utilization of the adoption of the Senate bill, accompanied by an agreed to piece of legislation to be embodied in the reconciliation package,” Dingell says. “And just tell the Republicans that you have a chance to co-operate with us, and if you don’t we’ll be proceeding.

“I’ve discussed it with members–everybody’s talking about it,” Dingell added. “Right now nobody is agreeing to anything, because we’re all trying to make up our minds what the facts are to support a particular course of action.”

That’s understandable, but will have to end soon. Ultimately, he says, members need to move urgently.

“There is only a limited amount of time to address this,” he said.

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