Schumer: Democrats Exploring Options for Health Care Passage

Posted January 21, 2010 at 12:09pm

Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) indicated Thursday that Democrats are anxious to resolve the health care impasse and turn their attention to the economy and job creation.Schumer said his caucus is still weighing its options in the wake of Republican Scott Brown’s (R) stunning election to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) in Massachusetts. Brown’s swearing-in, expected next week, provides the Republicans with 41 votes, just enough to filibuster the Democratic health care bill. “We’re all exploring the right way to go,— Schumer told reporters during a news conference. “Obviously, you cannot just proceed as if nothing happened, because something very significant happened. But there’s a strong view … that we want to do some good things in health care. The question is how — how much and how quickly?—“Obviously there are different options. And, you’d have to look at each,— Schumer continued. “How long will each one take? I don’t think we want to do health care the next three months. So, there are trade-offs here, and that’s what everyone’s exploring.—Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said the House Caucus was going through the “same process.— Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) confirmed Thursday that there simply aren’t enough Democratic votes in her chamber to pass the $871 billion Senate package as-is.“There are a number of other options, and we’re discussing them,— said Van Hollen, who appeared with Schumer at a news conference on the Supreme Court’s decision on the campaign finance reform ruling. “There are a whole range of them, and none of them have any preference over another at this point.—Schumer said he has advised Democrats not to rush to judgment, but that a lengthy delay in deciding a path forward on health care would also be unwise. Schumer is the former two-term chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and helped catapult Democrats into the Senate majority in 2006.“We don’t have to have something on the floor today or tomorrow,— Schumer said Thursday. “We have to take a deep breath, explore the ramifications of the election and then where to go. That doesn’t mean we’re going to twiddle our thumbs for weeks and weeks and weeks.—Schumer said there are two or three realistic options for Democrats to pursue to get a bill to President Barack Obama, including using reconciliation rules to sidestep an expected GOP filibuster. Schumer said Democrats would prefer a bipartisan solution.Brown, who vowed during his special election campaign against Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) to be the 41st Republican vote against the Democrats’ health care bill, said Thursday while on Capitol Hill that his position hasn’t changed. Brown said he would like to find a way to reform health care and extend coverage to the uninsured but opposes the comprehensive approach pushed by Democrats.“I’ve always said that everybody deserves, you know, some form of coverage. But I was not in favor of the one-size-fits-all. I’m more of a states-rights person,— Brown told reporters prior to a round of meetings with Democratic and Republican Senators.