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Reid: No Rush on Health Care Reform

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday said Democrats would not make any immediate decisions on health care reform in the aftermath of Republican Scott Brown’s surprise victory in the Massachusetts Senate special election Tuesday and suggested the majority is prepared to pivot its attention to jobs.

Reid defended the Democratic priorities of the last year and said Brown’s victory over state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) would have no bearing on the majority’s legislative strategy moving forward.

“The problems out there are certainly more than health care. People all over this country are concerned about — as I’ve already indicated — their jobs, keeping their jobs, finding a job,” Reid told reporters during a news conference. “We’re not going to rush into anything. We’re going to wait until the new Senator arrives before we do anything more on health care. Remember, the bill we passed in the Senate is good for a year.”

“If there was one message I got from the leadership meeting I held this morning and the caucus I just had, it is the fact that we’re concerned with everything going on in the country and we’re not going to rush to judgment on any one of them,” Reid added.

As part of his campaign, Brown promised to provide the GOP with the extra vote they need to sustain a filibuster of health care reform legislation. His election has forced Reid to take a step back and examine other avenues for getting a final health care bill to the president’s desk, including reconciliation rules. Reid said that tactic — under which Democrats could pass pieces of the health care bill with just 51 votes — remains an option.

Reid said the onus is on a newly increased Republican Conference to compromise with the majority.

“Republicans have made a political calculation not to participate. That’s evident by what took place last year. Their answer to everything — everything, has been no. Hard to comprehend, but even on funding the troops,” Reid said. “Last night the people of Massachusetts gave the Republican caucus a new opportunity to govern. We hope today they take that opportunity.”

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