Allies: Obama’s Trip Overseas Won’t Impede Health Care Bill’s Progress

Posted November 12, 2009 at 3:49pm

While it caused some consternation when first announced, President Barack Obama’s eight-day trip to Asia will have little effect on Democrats’ ability to move health care legislation through the Senate, according to Senate and White House aides.Senators are expected to begin debating the health care package next week and then recess for Thanksgiving.When word of the Asia trip began circulating several weeks ago, supporters of the legislation thought the process would be further along by now.But it is now clear that Obama, who returns next Thursday, will be back well before crunch time, sources said.“We’re several weeks away from getting to the heart of the debate,— one senior Senate Democratic aide said. The trip “will have absolutely no impact,— the aide said, adding wryly, “Obama has a phone.—And while he is traveling, the president’s aides will be carrying his water on Capitol Hill.“The president’s team will be engaged with Senators and House Members just as they have been during the last several weeks,— White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass said. “The president will remain in close contact with his staff while traveling and may speak with Senators throughout the week.—Nevertheless, Obama won’t be meeting one-on-one with any wavering Senators, possibly until after Thanksgiving. And he is unlikely to make any public pitches for health care while in Asia.