McConnell: Republicans Will Attend Obama's Health Summit

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate's top Republican, "promised Sunday morning that he and his members will attend President Obama's health care summit on Thursday 'ready to participate’ but said the Democrats are being 'arrogant' by refusing to scrap their legislation and start over," The Washington Post reports. The Kentucky senator, who was speaking on 'Fox News Sunday,' said "his party will continue to oppose Democrats if they try to use the parliamentary tactic called ‘reconciliation’ to pass parts of their health care agenda ... White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in response that ‘the upcoming meeting is an opportunity to get beyond oft repeated and completely false talking points like these. ... The President is coming to the meeting with an open mind and he hopes the Republicans do as well'" (Murray and Shear, 2/21).

The Hill: "At issue is the process Senate Democratic leaders have indicated they will use to finish healthcare reform legislation. That process, called budget reconciliation, would allow senators to pass final changes to the original health bill they'd passed in December using only a simple majority of votes, instead of the 60 normally needed to end a filibuster" (O'Brien, 2/21).

Politico: "The American people 'really want us to shelve this bill and start over,' McConnell said. 'And I hope that’s what the president does when he puts this new proposal on the Internet.' He also said he expects a number of Democrats to vote against a health care bill, if Democrats try to push it through using a controversial reconciliation strategy" (Lovley, 2/21).

The Associated Press/Washington Post report: "Two governors are hoping Democrats and Republicans can work out a compromise on a health care. ... GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California says if Washington lawmakers really want to serve the public, they'll try to find 'that sweet spot' of agreement. A Democratic governor, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, says a compromise will mean Republicans giving the OK to some Democratic ideas and Democrats willing to take on some GOP ideas" (2/21).

The New York Times: "Some high-level Democrats are betting that the outcome of President Obama's health care summit meeting this week could hinge on the extent to which they prove to the American public that they have already incorporated Republican ideas into the Democrats' health care legislation. Making that case, the Democrats believe could establish political legitimacy ... even if Congressional Republicans continue to oppose the measures."

Republicans "are not only opposing the bulk of the Democrats' existing bills, but are also rejecting some of their own previous proposals, like the plan in the 2008 presidential campaign by Senator John McCain of Arizona to end the tax exclusion for employer-provided health benefits and replace it with tax credits to help all American buy insurance. But even as they risk charges of hyprocrisy, Republicans are seeking to make the case that given the weak economy, the federal government cannot afford to spend money to extend insurance coverage to millions of Americans ... " (Herszenhorn, 2/20).

In another story, the Associated Press/MSN offer a "viewers' guide to the White House meeting, looking at Obama and his plan, Republicans in Congress and divided Democrats" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/20).

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