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Obama Renews Drive for Health Care Reform

In a press conference Monday at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, he called the need for health care reform “urgent” and “indisputable.”

“We can’t afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care,” Mr. Obama said. “There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake.”

Listen to the president’s full remarks here:

The president will also host a prime-time news conference at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and is sitting down for a series of interviews with news outlets, including the NewsHour.

The push comes as health care reform is looking increasingly embattled in Congress and in public opinion. A Washington Post/ABC News Poll released Monday showed that for the first time, the president’s approval ratings on the issue have slipped below 50 percent. That poll showed that 81 percent of Americans were concerned about health care reform “reducing the quality of health care you receive” and 84 percent were concerned it would “sharply increase the national debt.”

Meanwhile, Republicans are stepping up their attacks on the president’s plan. The Republican National Committee began Monday airing a new television ad opposing the plan, and RNC chair Michael Steele lambasted Obama’s quick timetable for reform in a speech at the National Press Club Monday.

“They want to get a bill done in the next two weeks. This reckless approach is an ill-conceived attempt to push through an experiment and all of us should be scared to death,” Steele said.

In Congress, it promises to be a busy week for lawmakers. Three of the five committees working on health care legislation in the House and Senate have approved versions of a reform bill. But all three committees passed their bills in party-line votes, with no Republican support.

Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., is still working to develop a compromise bill that could win the support of Republicans and more conservative Democrats on his committee. But the committee has fallen behind schedule, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. D-Nev., has said he wants to bring legislation to the Senate floor by Monday, July 27.