Monday’s Headlines: Obama to Host Bipartisan Health Care Reform Talks
President Barack Obama has invited Republican and Democratic leaders to the White House to discuss health care legislation later this month. The half-day meeting would take place Feb. 25 and be televised live.
“I want to come back [after the President's Day recess] and have a large meeting, Republicans and Democrats, to go through systematically all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward,” the president told CBS’s Katie Couric in an interview aired live Sunday before the Super Bowl.
Democratic and Republican leaders have differed on most major questions in the long-running health care debate. Only one Republican voted for the health care bill that the House approved in December, and no Republicans voted for a similar Senate version.
“If we can go, step by step, through a series of these issues and arrive at some agreements, then, procedurally, there’s no reason why we can’t do it a lot faster the process took last year,” the president said.
The meeting at the White House would be President Obama’s first major move to revive his health care agenda after Democrats lost its filibuster-proof Senate majority.
“I am pleased that the White House finally seems interested in a real, bipartisan conversation on health care,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner in a statement Sunday. “The problem with the Democrats’ health care bills is not that the American people don’t understand them; the American people do understand them, and they don’t like them.”
Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown reports that Democrats are “confused as ever about how the White House plans to deliver a health care reform bill this year, after two weeks of inconsistent statements, negligible hands-on involvement and a sudden shift to a jobs-first message,” and they “are growing impatient with Obama’s reluctance to guide them toward a legislative solution.”
But the White House does not plan to scrap months of legislative effort on the issue, according to the Washington Post. The president plans to come to the summit armed with a Democratic bill.
The question, poses the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny, is how much — if at all — President Obama is willing “to give on some of the concepts Democrats have already agreed on, or if he is using the meeting to lay the groundwork for another effort by Democrats to push the legislation through without Republican votes.”
We’ll have more about the proposed meeting on the NewsHour later this evening.
The New Orleans Saints overcame an early, 10-point deficit to win the team’s first Super Bowl, defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17, in Miami.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees tied a Super Bowl record for completions and was voted the game’s most valuable player. The New Orleans defense held Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning to a single score in the final three quarters, intercepting him for a touchdown in the last moments and sealing the title.
Curious about the ads? The Wall Street Journal offers this interactive; the New York Times calls them “retro”; and the Washington Post’s Tom Shales singles out the Leno-Oprah-Letterman spot for stealing the “thunder from all the costly commercials sprinkled liberally through the game.”
Much of the mid-Atlantic region continues to dig out from record snowfalls over the weekend. In Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, federal government buildings and most schools are closed. Many side streets are unplowed and public transportation systems are running only a few routes.
More bad news? Another snowstorm is on the way.
NASA space shuttle Endeavour and six astronauts lifted into orbit early Monday morning in what’s likely the last nighttime launch for the shuttle program:
The 13-day mission to bring a new room and observation deck to the International Space Station comes one week after President Obama scrapped the back-to-the-moon program.
The four remaining shuttle flights to the station — in March, May, July and September — have daytime departures.