Congressional Republicans have been calling for more bipartisanship for months, decrying closed-door Democrats-only meetings on health care reform. So President Obama invited GOP leaders to the White House Feb. 25 for a televised, bipartisan summit on reform.
In response, House Republicans leaders yesterday sent a letter to the White House listing a series of “questions” they want answered before they participate.
“Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward on health care in a bipartisan way, does that mean he will agree to start over so that we can develop a bill that is truly worthy of the support and confidence of the American people?” write the leaders, Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor.“If the starting point for this meeting is the job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected, Republicans would rightly be reluctant to participate,” they continue.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responds that Obama is “open to including any good ideas that stand up to objective scrutiny. What he will not do, however, is walk away from reform and the millions of American families and small business counting on it.”
You can read all of the Republicans’ letter here. Gibbs’ full statement is below.
The President is adamant that we seize this historic moment to pass meaningful health insurance reform legislation. He began this process by inviting Republican and Democratic leaders to the White House on March 5 of last year, and he’s continued to work with both parties in crafting the best possible bill. He’s been very clear about his support for the House and Senate bills because of what they achieve for the American people: putting a stop to insurance company abuses, extending coverage to millions of hardworking Americans, getting control of rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and reducing the deficit.
The President looks forward to reviewing Republican proposals that meet the goals he laid out at the beginning of this process, and as recently as the State of the Union Address. He’s open to including any good ideas that stand up to objective scrutiny. What he will not do, however, is walk away from reform and the millions of American families and small business counting on it. The recent news that a major insurer plans to raise premiums for some customers by as much as 39 percent is a stark reminder of the consequences of doing nothing.
Late update: Now RNC Chairman Michael Steele has chimed in, pointing out that the White House declined an offer to meet with Congressional Republicans in May.
“We’d ask Mr. Gibbs if he can offer one example of working with House Republicans on health care reform since then. Just one,” he wrote in a press release.
Later update: On Fox News this afternoon, Cantor said he will “absolutely” attend the meeting.