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« Recalling Obama's Health Care Messaging | Blog Home Page | House Ethics Panel: Rangel Broke Rules »

Durbin: Democrats Will "Press Forward" On Health Care

Speaking to reporters during the lunch break at today's health care summit, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin hinted that Democrats are expecting to press ahead on health care through reconciliation, a tactic Republicans have decried for this legislation.

"I'm glad the president is trying, the American people want him to try," he said, according to a pool report. "If nothing comes of this we're going to press forward. We just can't quit. This is a once in a political lifetime opportunity to deal with a health care system that is really unsustainable."

The use of reconciliation was actually a flashpoint early on in today's summit, with Senate GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander asking President Obama to renounce the use of the procedural tactic.

"You can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right, but it's never been used for anything like this," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid later responded.

"No one has talked about reconciliation but that's what you folks have talked about ever since that came out, as if it's something that has never been done before," he said. "The Speaker and I have not talked about doing reconciliation as the only way out of all this. Of course it's not the only way out. But remember, since 1981 reconciliation has been used 21 times. Most of it has been used by Republicans, for major things, like much of the Contract for America, Medicare reform, the tax cuts for rich people in America. So reconciliation isn't something that's never been done before."