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GOP Drafts Unified Strategy for Health Care Summit

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will echo House calls for a “step-by-step” approach to health care, instead of a comprehensive bill.

The Republican unified front stands in contrast to the House and Senate Democrats, many of whom are undecided about where they stand on Obama’s plan. Obama’s $950 billion bill largely follows the Senate’s approach to health care reform, and while the White House sought to include provisions that would appeal to House Democrats, it remains unclear whether it has done enough to bring disgruntled liberals and moderates back into the fold.

Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said Republicans would do better to come into the summit with open minds rather than readying for a partisan showdown. “The American people want us to work together,” he said.

Elshami said Democrats have put forward a proposal that holds insurance companies accountable, ensures coverage for middle-class Americans and lowers the deficit.

“Those should be the goals for every Member of Congress,” Elshami said.

Republicans said they hope that by sticking together, they can not only block Democrats’ efforts but also show the public that they have some meaningful alternatives.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said Republicans would use the opportunity to reiterate their belief that the American public does not want a massive overhaul of health care.

“Republicans in both the House and Senate are listening to the American people, who are yelling ‘stop’ at out-of-touch Washington Democrats,” Steel said. “People just don’t want a massive government takeover of health care filled with backroom deals, tax hikes and Medicare cuts.”

Josh Holmes, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed, saying: “There really hasn’t been any ambiguity about how Americans view a 2,000-page bill chock full of Medicare cuts and tax increases, but we appreciate the opportunity to put a finer point on it. Republicans stand together asking Democrats to scrap this rejected bill and proceed step-by-step to produce common-sense reforms that help bring down costs.”

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