Report: Healthcare reform might not get done this year

Congressional Dems tell ABC that a reform bill might have to wait until 2010


Alex Koppelman
November 4, 2009 4:25AM (UTC)

Just when it seemed like Congress was picking up the pace on healthcare reform, there are signs that the whole process might be screeching to a stop. ABC News' Jonathan Karl is reporting that "senior Congressional Democrats" say it's unlikely a final bill will get done this year, despite President Obama's previously stated confidence that things would be finished by then, and despite numerous deadlines that have been blown already.

Karl quotes one "senior Democratic leadership aide" as saying, "Getting this done by the end of the year is a no-go," and reports that "Two other key Congressional Democrats also told ABC News the same thing."

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The Associated Press seems to have sources of its own saying much the same thing. The wire service is also focusing on comments made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who seemed to signal on Tuesday that Democrats may not be able to finish the legislation by the end of the year. Even a statement from Reid's spokesman that attempted to clarify the leader's remarks seemed to leave a fair amount of wiggle room: "Our goals remain unchanged. We want to get health insurance reform done this year, and we have unprecedented momentum to achieve that. There is no reason why we can't have a transparent and thorough debate in the Senate and still send a bill to the president by Christmas."

The White House, however, is remaining optimistic. The AP quotes Assistant Press Secretary Reid Cherlin as saying, "Our goals remain unchanged. We want to get health insurance reform done this year, and we have unprecedented momentum to achieve that. There is no reason why we can't have a transparent and thorough debate in the Senate and still send a bill to the president by Christmas."

There's good reason for the White House to want to put the best face on things, and for the Obama team to keep pushing to get a bill done now. If the process stretches out until 2010, midterms start looming, and some of the Democrats who are on the fence will get nervous about how their vote will affect them come Election Day.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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