“Bipartisanship is a two-way street,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declares in an interview airing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“But let me say this,” Pelosi continues, “The bill can be bipartisan, even though the votes might not be bipartisan, because they [Republicans] have made their imprint on this.”
Pelosi pointed to the fact that the final bill will, in all likelihood, not include a government-run public health insurance option, a provision vigorously opposed by congressional Republicans but supported by liberal House Democrats. Instead, Pelosi tells CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, Democrats have settled on insurance exchanges as a way to help contain health care costs. That compromise position, Pelosi suggested, reflects an acknowledgement of Republicans’ approach to health care reform.
Reflecting a key provision of the Senate bill passed late last year, the legislative outline released by the White House last week does not include a public option. Asked about the White House’s decision to forego a provision popular with many liberals in the Democratic Party, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration made that decision because it did not appear that there would be sufficient votes to get the public option passed in Congress. Although some liberal Democrats in both chambers favor a public option, a substantial block of conservative Democrats in the House, known as the Blue Dogs, do not support it.
In the interview, Pelosi is also quick to suggest that President Obama and congressional Democrats have gone to great lengths to give Republicans an opportunity to weigh in on health care reform notwithstanding fundamental ideological differences between the two parties.
“We went into the legislative process - hundreds of hours of hearings and bill writing and all the rest - where the Republicans made their suggestions,” Pelosi tells Crowley. “We know that one of the reasons we didn’t have a bill in the fall is because the president wanted to give the Senate more time to arrive at bipartisanship in the Senate bill, which he thought might be possible then.”
Pelosi added, “And so what we’ve had is the year of trying to strive for bipartisanship, as I say over 100 Republican amendments in the bill. And the Republicans placed their own bill on the floor, here in the House, which insured 3 million. Our bill insures over 30 million. So we have a different value system here.”