Thursday, February 04, 2010

Obama calls for talks with GOP on health care, then vote by Congress

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama called Thursday for high-level talks with Republicans on a Democratic health care bill, then putting the resulting legislation to a vote in Congress.

"If Congress decides we're not going to do it, even after all the facts are laid out, after all the options are clear, then the American people can make a judgment as to whether this Congress has done the right thing for them or not," Obama said. "That's how democracy works."

Obama's comments were the first clear signal from the White House or Democrats in Congress on how they would proceed on a top legislative priority after losing their 60-seat supermajority in the Senate.

Republican Scott Brown was sworn as the new U.S. senator from Massachusetts earlier Thursday, leaving the Democrats one vote shy of being able to overcome filibusters of health care reform and other major initiatives.

Asked at a party fundraising event about the Democratic strategy for health care reform going forward, Obama said Democratic leaders in the House and Senate were working out differences in the separate health care bills passed by each chamber last year.

Once that was finished, Obama said, the next step would be "to call on our Republican friends to present their ideas." He proposed a meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders, along with health care experts, to go over the merged legislation.

"Their ideas, our ideas, let's go through them in a methodical way so the American people can compare," Obama said, adding: "And then I think we've got to go ahead and move forward on a vote. We've got to move forward on a vote."

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