Posts Tagged ‘GOP



14
Apr
10

White House fights for finance reforms

NEWS
White House fights for finance reforms

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A bipartisan meeting on financial regulatory reform between President Barack Obama and GOP congressional leaders broke up early and acrimoniously Wednesday – as the White House warned Republicans against trying to water down the bill.

“Obama made clear that bipartisanship should not be equated with an openness to lobbyists’ loopholes and special interest carve-outs and that he would be unwilling to negotiate on some key issues,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in an e-mailed readout of the meeting, “And that he could not accept bad policy” in pursuit of a deal with the GOP.

“It appears the bipartisan talks have broken down,” pronounced Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.), after meeting for less than an hour with Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

“The strings were kind of pulled by the Democratic leaders,” added McConnell, who said that Democrats “are trying to jam us” for political gain.

“If there’s one lesson that we’ve learned,” said Obama in televised remarks prior to the meeting, “it’s that an unfettered market where people are taking huge risks and expecting taxpayers to bail them out when things go sour is simply not acceptable.”

Pelosi said Obama and the Democrats confronted McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner, saying they asked the Republicans, “Do you want to rein in Wall Street?”
Despite McConnell’s claims, Democratic staffers have expressed confidence that regulating Wall Street is such a poisonous issue for the GOP this fall that many in the party will ultimate side with Democrats – with as many as half a dozen defections possible.

Senate Democrats are lining up behind a proposal passed by lame-duck Banking Committee Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) that would create a consumer protection bureau with authority to write rules governing all financial entities, including banks and other institutions, in addition to “authority to examine and enforce regulations for banks and credit unions with assets over $10 billion and all mortgage-related businesses.”

Acrimony aside, Dodd and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the committee, are due to meet this afternoon in hopes of hashing out a broader deal. But Dodd earlier Wednesday threatened to end negotiations with Republicans on a financial regulatory reform bill if they continue to lead what he called a misinformation campaign based on Wall Street talking points.

In a blistering floor speech Tuesday, McConnell laid out the GOP’s counterargument – claiming the Democrats’ bill would put taxpayer on the hook for future bailouts.

Emerging from his Tuesday meeting, McConnell hammered home that point, saying, “It’s a bill that actually guarantees future bailouts of Wall Street banks, if you look carefully… hat is clearly not the direction the American people want to go.”

A seething Reid, squinting in the bright sunlight of the West Wing driveway, called McConnell’s claim that Democrats had abandoned talks a “figment of his imagination” and vowed to pass the overhaul quickly.

The White House has accused McConnell of parroting the party’s talking points, driven by polls.

Participants described the meeting as “lively” and “candid” but demurred when reporters pressed him on the number of GOP “yes” votes he hoped to get.

“It’s difficult to work with the party of no,” he said.

The majority leader, facing a tough reelection fight in Nevada this fall, seized on a FOX Business News report that McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) recently met privately with about 25 hedge Wall Street executives, many of them hedge fund managers, to talk fundraising and regulatory reform.

McConnell dodged questions about the meeting saying only that he had heard criticism of the Dodd bill from “community banks in Kentucky.”

But when a reporter pressed him about his relationship with Wall Street, McConnell said, “Sure, we talk with people all the time, I’m not denying that,” – saying it was “inaccurate to say the GOP was fighting for the big banks.

As the meeting took place, Boehner’s staff released a list of talking points the leader planned to make, including the argument that the Dodd bill “sets up a huge new bureaucracy” and “does nothing to address the root causes of the Fannie & Freddie.”

But a person familiar with the situation that Boehner “actually said none of that” during the brisk, businesslike meeting.

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12
Apr
10

Scott Brown Won’t Attend Boston Tea Party, But Sarah Palin Will

NEWS
Scott Brown Won’t Attend Boston Tea Party, But Sarah Palin Will

Monday, April 12, 2010

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, whose stunning victory in January was fueled in part by Tea Party anger, has snubbed the fiery grassroots group and declined its invitation to join Sarah Palin Wednesday at a massive rally on Boston Common, the Herald has learned.

Brown’s decision to skip the first big rally in Boston by the group whose members are credited with helping him win election has some experts saying he’s tossed the Tea Party overboard, as he prepares for re-election in 2012.

“He wants to mainstream himself before the election,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist.

Brown, who took heat for the alleged misbehavior of some of his supporters at campaign events, may be trying to distance himself from what could be a volatile event, said political analyst Lou DiNatale.

“You’re worried at a rally that there’s a sign, a statement, an incident that’s certifiably cuckoo occurs,” DiNatale said.

“To win re-election, Scott Brown floating to the right is a serious problem.

“And showing up at a Sarah Palin, Tea Party event is not the way to the middle.”

But Brown spokesman Felix Browne said the senator applauds the “energy and enthusiasm” Palin and the Tea Party bring to GOP politics.

The Senate is in session and Brown can’t get away, Browne said.

“He’ll be doing the job he was elected to do – serving the people of the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Browne said.

Sabato said it’s “possible” Brown can’t get away but noted senators do travel to their districts during the weeks-long stretches that the Senate is in session.

“It’s not like they’re voting constantly,” Sabato said.

Tea Party members said they don’t feel slighted.

“It’s not about paying favors back,” said Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express, which organized the rally and invited Brown.

“I’d happily forgo (having him) if he’s truly doing the job of the people.

“He has half a century of Kennedy damage to compensate for, after all.”

Barbara Klain, head of the Greater Lowell Tea Party, said Brown also turned down an invite to speak at their April 15 rally in downtown Lowell.

“He said he was going to be in Washington,” Klain said. “He needs to be doing his job.”

It’s a view Sabato suggested was willfully naive.

“It’s naive, but they’re cutting him some slack,” Sabato said.

“But he’s their hero, more so than Sarah Palin – they got him elected.”

This won’t be the first time Brown has appeared to distance himself from Palin.

Shortly after his triumph, Brown denied receiving a congratulatory call from Palin, only to remember the exchange when pressed.

Palin is a possible 2012 presidential rival to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose aides were the architects of Brown’s Senate win.

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11
Apr
10

Michael Steele To Republicans: ‘I’ve Made Mistakes’

NEWS
Michael Steele To Republicans: ‘I’ve Made Mistakes’

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In damage control mode, GOP national chairman Michael Steele on Saturday sought to quell the furor over his management of the Republican National Committee by acknowledging errors and vowing to learn from them.

“I’m the first here to admit that I’ve made mistakes and it’s been incumbent on me to take responsibility to shoulder that burden, make the necessary changes and move on,” Steele told GOP activists and party leaders, drawing a standing ovation.

“The one mistake we cannot make this November is to lose,” he added, and the crowd cheered in agreement.

Saturday’s speech to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference was Steele’s first public appearance since the disclosure of questionable spending – including a $2,000 tab at a sex-themed California night club – resulted in top advisers cutting ties with him and North Carolina’s state party chief calling for his resignation.

Normally a bombastic showman, Steele struck a contrite tone before the supportive audience in the half-full hotel ballroom. He did not address the specific complaints.

And even though he acknowledged his errors, he also blamed others. “We can’t coast into the majority, nor can we assume it’s a sure thing.

The liberal media are looking for any possible alternative narrative to tell,” Steele said. “They are looking for those distractions, and Lord knows I’ve provided a few.”

He added: “The Democrats also know that they have some explaining to do, and they’d love nothing more than for us to keep pointing fingers.”

Outspoken and brassy, Steele is not a traditional buttoned-down GOP chairman and he’s been a target of criticism since he was elected last year.

The complaints reached a fever pitch over the past week, causing both embarrassment and distraction for a GOP looking to take advantage of a troubling political environment for Democrats ahead of this fall’s midterm elections. Still, for all the angst in the GOP over Steele, it’s unlikely he will be fired.

Ousting a chairman is a complicated, messy process that requires votes of two-thirds of the 168-member RNC.

And, while there are both hard-core Steele opponents and fierce Steele allies, several Republican officials at the New Orleans conference said that most committee members and party chairman simply seem to want to move on from the controversy so Republicans can focus on November.

Attended by roughly 3,000 GOP activists and party leaders, the three-day conference wrapped up Saturday with speeches by prominent Republicans considering running for president in 2012 against President Barack Obama.

Conference participants voted in a “straw poll” for their top 2012 choice; the results were hardly predictive and meant little. Some would-be contenders like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov.

Tim Pawlenty were absent and others like Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour asked that their names not be included. Those who gave speeches downplayed talk of the next presidential election.

“We have got to stay focused on the election of 2010. Don’t worry about 2012 … We can’t wait until 2012 to start taking our country back,” Barbour told the crowd.

Despite that message, he sounded every bit the presidential candidate and spoke after running a slick video that promoted his role as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Barbour also urged unity as the GOP wrestles with what to do about Steele and as the tea party’s emergence highlights divisions among Republicans.

“The wind is at our back. How are we going to make sure it continues to fill up our sails?” Barbour said. “We stick together.” He said Republicans should focus on the 80 percent of issues that unite them, not the 20 percent that may divide them. “We’ve got to let the things that unite us be the things that guide us,” he said.

“We cannot let ourselves by torn apart by the idea of purity.” Earlier, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is looking for a political comeback, took on the Republican Party, saying that when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House before Democrats won control: “We let America down.”

“Conservatism didn’t fail America, conservatives failed conservatism,” Santorum said, prompting huge cheers. “Let’s be honest: we were guilty of more government when we were there.” Seeking to raise his national profile, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence – a darling of the party’s right flank – introduced himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican.”

And, eying another run after his 2008 failed bid, Texas Rep. Ron Paul told activists that “the American people have awoken” because Washington won’t address the nation’s fiscal crisis. Still, for all the appearances by likely 2012 candidates and excitement over the midterms, the RNC’s woes hovered over event.

“In life, you realize very quickly that you can’t please everyone. But you can certainly make them all made at you at the same time,” Steele said. “And that is a lesson well-learned. It is an opportunity as well.

Because folks have been mad at us in the past and we have learned from that past, and we are now ready to move on to a brighter future.”

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11
Apr
10

SELC: For GOP, no front-runner and no worries

NEWS
SELC: For GOP, no front-runner and no worries

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, the two Republicans taking the most obvious steps toward presidential bids, both skipped the Southern Republican Leadership Conference here this weekend.

And the thousands of Republicans in attendance didn’t seem to miss them.

With GOP leaders and activists viewing the 2010 midterms as a unique, defining chance to stop the hated Obama agenda, the invisible primary appears to be largely on hold, and the presidential field remains wide open.

Only two men are really running so far: Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, thanks to his previous White House run and fundraising capacity, starts off the 2012 race as the nearest thing his party has to a frontrunner, while Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, is working feverishly to boost his profile.

But Republicans – who, this time four years ago, were riveted by the contest between candidates including Romney, former Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, and Arizona Sen. John McCain – seem in no hurry to focus on the two all-but-declared candidates, or on any of the other figures beginning to position themselves for 2012.

Among the activists, operatives and elected officials gathered for this quadrennial exercise, part political beauty contest and part strategy session, there is little consensus not only who they’d like to nominate but even on which candidates they’d like to see run.

“Don’t get distracted by 2012,” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told an approving crowd in his speech Saturday.

“People are very excited about our opportunity in ‘10, but more important they think the stakes in ‘10 are incredibly high,” Barbour, who also chairs the Republican Governors Association and could himself seek the presidential nomination in two years, said in an interview. “They think the issues that we’re going to start dealing with in ‘10 really matter to them but also the country’s future. So there is no question, the focus here is almost totally on ’10. If I had my way it would be exclusively on ’10.”

Presidential cycles have in recent years started earlier and earlier, but the race to become the GOP nominee in 2012 seems to be reversing that trend. Less than two years before the first votes are cast in Iowa and New Hampshire, the field generals and their lieutenants in the Republican Party are simply not in a hurry to find a standard-bearer. It’s not for a lack of potential candidates or energy in the party ranks – the GOP has clearly emerged from its Bush-era funk and is confident their string of statewide wins since last November portends good things for this fall.

But it seems highly unlikely that there will be any move to coalesce behind a single figure in the fashion of, for example, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 1999.

That’s in part because the various contenders have some elements that seem attractive but no one offers such a complete package that they’re standing out from an unsettled field. Take the two leaders in many early polls: Grassroots activists adore Sarah Palin and nobody else comes close to the former Alaska governor’s own-the-room star wattage.

But party leaders, and even some of her rank-and-file fans, have grave doubts about her command of the issues and viability. Romney is just the opposite – he’s unquestionably competent, but a sober Mr. Fix-It isn’t exactly the order of the day at a time when many in the party feel the same sort of mad-as-hell outrage that Palin seems to embody.

At the core of the 2012 apathy is a larger and more important point about the current mood among conservatives: Republican Party activists have such fear of President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority’s policies that they are intensely focused on the present.

It is, of course, a familiar line, trotted out predictably by politicians at such party confabs as this, that the only election that matters is the next one.

But the GOP leaders stressing the mid-terms here aren’t just doing it to downplay their own ambitions and keep activists focused on the near-term. They’re also doing it because they don’t want to get cross-wise with a base that truly believes, with a palpable urgency, that America as they know it hangs in the balance of whatever the next election is.

In January, that was the special Senate election in Massachusetts, into which poured vast amounts of conservative money and manpower. And now it means this November’s contests.

Using one sports metaphor after another, GOP politicians made that point in New Orleans. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a member of the House leadership who is mulling a 2012 run, explained Saturday in his speech how Indiana’s Butler University made its Cinderella run through this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.

“We have just got to focus on the next possession,” Pence said, drawing rousing applause from the floor.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry invoked Big 12 college football, and counseled “keeping the team focused on the game at hand.”

In interviews, top GOP leaders explained why the party was so fixated on the here and now.

“I do think there’s a sense among voters and activists out there that these are important times for our country’s future,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in an interview. “That this is greater than just the recession, it’s greater than one health care bill. There are some fundamental decisions we have to make as a country.”

The question, said Jindal, is this: “Do we want to become more like Europe, with higher levels of spending which means higher levels of taxes which means larger, more intrusive government programs or are we going to take back a more limited government? That’s why I think [the moment] is greater than any political party, or movement or particular leader or set of speakers.”

In speaking to a small breakfast of top GOP donors Saturday morning, Barbour urged the moneymen against looking beyond this fall with a folksy aphorism he credited to FedEx CEO and Mississippi native Fred Smith: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Barbour did his part, as aides made sure to point out, by requesting his name not be placed on the conference’s straw poll ballot.

He wasn’t the only one who got the message: Jindal and Perry also stayed off the ballot.

And, perhaps most telling, the most implicit mention of the 2012 contest during the slew of speeches over the three days may have been when Jindal used his chance on stage Friday to flatly declare he would not be seeking the nomination.

Among party operatives – the types who, like their candidate clients, do think about the next presidential contest but who, unlike their clients, will actually talk about the race – the GOP’s revival at the polls and Obama’s descent into the ranks of political mortals has created a what-me-worry feeling about the White House campaign.

Unlike at the last SRLC in 2006 when the party was consumed with determining who would succeed Bush and what the future direction of a majority party grappling with an unpopular war would be, now party strategists are happy to wait until after what they expect will be a smashing November to let the field take shape.

“Somebody will emerge – somebody we’re not talking about now or who does not want to be talked about now,” said GOP veteran Mary Matalin, following her kick-off address at the conference.

Matalin recalled her own initial favorite – and one of the most-talked-about potential candidates this time four years ago–to make the case for why it makes sense for White House prospects to avoid the spotlight.

“Look at what happened to poor George Allen,” she said, alluding to the former Virginia senator who made little secret of his presidential ambitions only to lose his own re-election in 2006. “He got a big target put on his back. If I were thinking about 2012 seriously, I would lay low.”

But Matalin, who worked for both Presidents Bush, said that the only certainty about the next presidential race is there will be no obvious frontrunner who captures the nomination thanks only to the party’s tradition of political primogeniture.

“Who’s in line? There is nobody in line,” she said.

Jindal said the current levels of grassroots energy will also preempt any crowning of a favored candidate.

“They don’t want to be told who to vote for,” the governor said, referring to the party foot soldiers. “This isn’t going to be a pre-ordained election. There is this reputation in the Republican Party that you wait your turn and then when it’s your turn, you run. I think the voters are saying we want to make the decision, this is democracy, we’ll decide who we want to represent us and lead us.”

“The activists would resist any attempt from party leaders or anybody else to try to pre-ordain a process or a pick,” he added.

The expectation among Republicans is that field will grow – and will include names who haven’t previously been considered.

“Every cycle that happens, there is a surprise,” said Liz Cheney following her own address to the conference.

Or, as Jindal put it: “Who would have thought a year into President Bush’s second term, that Sen. Obama would be the next president of the United States?”

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31
Mar
10

Barack Obama tries triangulation lite

NEWS
Barack Obama tries triangulation lite

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just days after Republicans fumed that passage of the health care bill tolled the death knell for bipartisanship, there was a very different message coming from some GOP quarters Wednesday: praise for President Barack Obama’s decision to lift the ban on some offshore oil drilling.

Credit Obama with pulling off a small political coup – one you could even call triangulation lite.

The price he paid in political terms was relatively small: Angry blowback from environmental activists who still support his overall climate change policy.

But the short-term benefits were large: By announcing the policy change, Obama defused a potentially potent Republican issue ahead of the summer gas spike and the fall midterms, while embracing major elements of the GOP’s “all of the above” energy approach to kick-start a stalled climate change bill.

And the drilling decision also allows the president to distance himself from liberal environmentalists disdained by some pro-drilling, blue-collar voters.

“It’s not a bad thing to show you’re willing to do something that gets liberals angry right after you pass the biggest liberal bill in a generation,” said a Senate Democrat staffer, whose boss opposes the policy.

The aide was encouraged by reader comments on news stories about the drilling decision announced early Wednesday. “Lots of people are saying ‘Obama finally did something I can get behind.’”

Obama proposed opening up a huge swath of the U.S. coastline to offshore drilling, an area that includes the Gulf Coast and much of the eastern seaboard, including possible petroleum fields off the Virginia coast, a move backed by the state’s two Democratic Senators, Mark Warner and Jim Webb.

Obama’s plan would maintain the ban on drilling off the southwestern coast of Alaska, but lifts restrictions on exploration of north Alaskan oceanic fields.

The move, which Obama telegraphed in his State of the Union speech and promised to pursue during the 2008 campaign, earned him rare bipartisan plaudits.

“I appreciate the department’s decision to allow valid existing rights to explore Alaska’s huge offshore oil and gas reserves to go ahead,” said Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, one of the Republicans Obama hopes to woo with his decision.

“I will work with the administration on proceeding with important future lease sales off Alaska’s coast.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has opposed virtually everything Democrats have proposed in the 111th Congress, said he was encouraged but skeptical; effusive support by McConnell standards.

Administration officials hope that the drilling announcement will coax other moderate Republicans in the Senate to join efforts by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts and Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman to cross party lines to pass a carbon-regulating climate change bill this year.

The long-awaited decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar – coming on the heels of Obama’s proposed tripling of funding for nuclear plant development – sparked a far less positive response from most green groups, who view it as a sell-out.

“We had been told they were going to come out with something and we had been told we weren’t going to like it. I’m just really surprised by how counter-productive this proposal is,” said Anna Aurilio, of Environment America, which joined Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters and other groups in opposing the move.

“To me this doesn’t add up to any progress. This is a step backwards … All this stuff that we’ve been working to protect for so long is now threatened for no good reason.”

Rep. Jay Inslee, (D-Wash.), an opponent of drilling, told that Wednesday’s move will be pointless if Obama can’t follow up with passage of a comprehensive bill that regulates carbon – a tall order even following the Democrats’ big health care win.

Without comprehensive reform, “a massive expansion of offshore drilling does not cut the mustard,” Inslee said. He added that he’s worried the administration is giving away one of their most important climate carrots – and getting nothing in return.

“It would in my mind be more confidence building to have this as part of the final agreement rather than the opening discussion,” he said.

Obama anticipated such criticism during a speech announcing the policy at Andrews Air Force Base.

“There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision,” he said. “What I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy” to wean the U.S. from foreign oil.

It’s not clear what, if any, impact the announcement will have on the Graham-Kerry-Lieberman effort to craft a bill sometime this spring. Obama and his staff have made it clear they plan to tackle financial regulatory reform next – a process that’s expected to take until Memorial Day.

That leaves only a few weeks before lawmakers leave for the midterm elections to pass a climate bill, a particularly tight timeframe given that Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman have yet to release a draft.

Other congressional aides steeped in climate politics say the drilling proposal is more defensive – by adopting the Republican cry for expanded drilling, the White House preempts one of their favorite attacks.

“Republicans claim they are for an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy. Now, when a vote occurs on a bill that includes drilling and nuclear power along with clean energy and a climate component, President Obama can call their bluff,” said a House aide involved in energy issues.

In the Senate, moderate Democrats and a handful of Republicans have named offshore drilling as their price of admission for a comprehensive climate bill.

“I will not support any bill that doesn’t have off-shore drilling in a meaningful way,” said Graham.

“It’s just impossible to pass any piece of legislation without it,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). “In order to get any bill through here, there’s going to be expanded drilling opportunities both on-shore and off.”

“It will be a fight – it always is,” she said, “but I think we’ll win.”

Yet even if Obama’s wins a short-term bump on the issue, perils remain. The decision may gain him some GOP backing – at the expense of anti-drilling Democrats.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has vowed to filibuster any legislation that removes the ban on drilling off the coast of Florida. And last week, 10 coastal state Democrats wrote the three senators working on the climate bill, warning that they could not support a bill that includes offshore drilling.

“We hope that as you forge legislation, you are mindful that we cannot support legislation that will mitigate one risk only to put our coasts at greater peril from another source,” they wrote.

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25
Mar
10

‘Go For It,’ Obama Tells Republicans On Health Care Repeal

NEWS
‘Go For It,’ Obama Tells Republicans On Health Care Repeal

Thursday, March 25, 2010

President Barack Obama mocked Republicans’ campaign to repeal his new health care law, saying they should “Go for it” and see how well they fare with voters.

“Be my guest,” Obama said Thursday in Iowa City, Iowa, in the first of many appearances around the country to sell the overhaul to voters before the fall congressional elections. “If they want to have that fight, we can have it. Because I don’t believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver’s seat.”

With emotions raw around the nation over the party-line vote to approve the nearly $1 trillion, 10-year law, Obama took the opposition to task for “plenty of fear-mongering, plenty of overheated rhetoric.”

“If you turn on the news, you’ll see that those same folks are still shouting about how it’s going to be the end of the world because this bill passed,” said Obama, appearing before thousands in this college town where, as a presidential candidate three years ago, he first unveiled his health care proposals.
No Republican lawmakers voted for the overhaul, a sweeping package that will shape how almost every American will receive and pay for medical treatment. Many in the GOP are predicting it will prove devastating in November for the Democrats who voted for it.

But the president stressed the notion of a promise kept, saying the legislation he signed into law on Tuesday is evidence he will do as he said. As the crowd broke into a chant of “Yes we can!” Obama corrected them: “Yes we did!”

The White House suggests it has the upper hand against Republicans politically, arguing the GOP risks a voter backlash because a repeal would take away from small businesses and individuals the benefits provided to them immediately under the new law.

“We’re not going back,” Obama said.

Obama spoke as Democrats in Washington raced to complete the overhaul with a separate package of fixes to the main bill.

Senate leaders finished work Thursday on the fix-it legislation, already approved in the House. But Republican attempts to derail the process resulted in minor changes to the bill, which meant the House would have to vote on it again before it can go to Obama for his signature. The House vote was expected by evening.

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25
Mar
10

Senate OKs changes to healthcare bill

NEWS
Senate OKs changes to healthcare bill

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Senate Democrats voted to pass the reconciliation package of repairs to President Obama’s health care overhaul Thursday afternoon after nearly round-the-clock votes to reject dozens of Republican amendments.

The bill passed 56–43 but has to go back to the House for another vote after Republicans were able to get two lines of the legislation deleted because they violated Senate rules. The House is expected to approve the changes to the bill – one a technicality, the other a limit on the maximum Pell grant allowed in the federal student loan program – and send the package to Mr. Obama late Thursday evening. A reform of the nation’s student loan system was included in the reconciliation bill for health reform.

The reconciliation bill contains a series of corrections to the underlying health care overhaul plan, which Mr. Obama signed into law this week.

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