HARI SREENIVASAN: Democrats’ remaining hopes for quick action on health care took a big step back today.
Health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made it clear this morning House Democrats will not adopt the health care reform bill that passed the Senate.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., speaker of the house: In its present form, without any change, I don’t think it’s possible to pass the Senate bill in the House.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Among other things, the House bill included a public option. The Senate bill did not.
Pelosi today outlined some of elements from the two bills that she thought might pass the House in a scaled-down bill.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: The need for us to address health insurance reforms, to end discrimination based on preexisting conditions, to stop recisions, that, when people are sick, even though they have health insurance, their policy is — has a recision, to say that, if you pay your premiums and do so on time, and you get sick, your plan will not — your insurance will not be canceled. The list goes on and on.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Overall, Pelosi said, House Democrats are not in a big rush. That change was forced by Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts, when Senate Democrats lost their 60-vote majority to defeat filibusters.
The Republican winner in Massachusetts, Scott Brown, made the rounds on Capitol Hill today. He met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Massachusetts Democrats John Kerry and Paul Kirk, and Republican Senator John McCain.
Brown won in part on a promise to stop the health care overhaul in its present form. And he was asked today about working with Democrats.
SCOTT BROWN: Am I open? Certainly. I’m open to looking at every single bill on its merits and making a decision based on that. And my first interest is going to look at is whether it’s good for my state, and then, obviously, if it’s good for the country.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But Republican leaders, invigorated by Brown’s election, said, Democrats’ health reform efforts are dead.
House Minority Leader John Boehner said, Congress should start over.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio, house minority leader: Well, listen, our goal is to stop this monstrosity. And we’re working with our — we’re working with our members so that we don’t find ourselves in a position where they’re able to pick off a few of our members and to get this bill passed.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: A White House spokesman said today, President Obama now agrees on the need to let the dust settle before trying to craft a health care bill that can pass, possibly with Republican support.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on Internet censorship today. In a Washington speech, she singled out China and several other countries. She said they have put up barriers to portions of the Web, and censored words, names and phrases in search results.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Countries that censor news and information must recognize that, from an economic standpoint, there is no distinction between censoring political speech and commercial speech. If businesses in your nations are denied access to either type of information, it will inevitably impact on growth.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Clinton urged Chinese officials to investigate recent cyber-attacks on Google’s e-mail accounts. The Chinese government insisted it’s treating the issue as a business dispute with Google, and not a political matter that affects ties with the U.S.
In Pakistan, military officials announced they will hold off launching new offensives against militants for up to a year. They said they need to consolidate the gains made since last spring. The announcement came during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He met with Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani, among others, and he called the antiterror operations a success so far.
Residents of Southern California endured heavy rains and high winds for a fourth straight day. More than 1,200 homes in the foothills and canyons along the San Gabriel Mountains were under orders to evacuate, but not everyone did. Local officials said, so far, flooding is limited and no major mudslides have been reported, but the risk remained high. In some coastal communities, like this one in Pacifica, buildings teetered on the edge, as 20-foot waves smashed ashore.
Conan O’Brien and NBC Television have agreed to part ways, paving the way for Jay Leno’s return to “The Tonight Show.” The network announced a $45 million severance deal today — $33 million of that goes to O’Brien, and the rest to his staff. His last show will air tomorrow night, but he is free to return to television in September. Leno takes back “The Tonight Show” reins starting March 1.