U.S. President Barack Obama says agreement on energy legislation and progress on health care reform show that Washington is beginning to change.
In his weekly address, President Obama says he is heartened by the willingness of those with differing interests to come together around common goals.
Mr. Obama has met in the past few days with representatives of insurance and drug companies, as well as doctors, hospitals and labor unions, to talk about reforming health care. These groups, which have opposed many previous reform attempts, agreed to reduce the health care spending growth rate.
And leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives are trying to pass a health care reform bill by the end of July. The president is applauding both efforts.
"That is the kind of urgency and determination we need to achieve comprehensive reform by the end of this year," he said. "And the reductions in spending the health care community has pledged will help make this reform possible."
In the weekly Republican message, Congressman Charles Boustany, who is also a cardiovascular surgeon, says his party agrees with the president on the basic principles of health care reform. But Boustany says offering consumers an option for government-run health care insurance would cause medical and financial problems.
"Government takeover of health care will put bureaucrats in charge of health care decisions that should be made by families and doctors," he said. "It will limit treatment options and lead to rationed care. And to pay for government health care, your taxes will be raised."
Mr. Obama says he is also encouraged by progress on energy legislation. After weeks of negotiations in the House, a bill has been introduced to require reductions in the gases that are blamed for global warming and increase reliance on cleaner forms of energy.
"For the first time, utility companies and corporate leaders are joining, rather than opposing, environmental advocates and labor leaders to create a new system of clean energy initiatives that will help unleash a new era of growth and prosperity," said the president.
Mr. Obama says, taken together, the agreements on energy and health care are signs that divisions in Washington are beginning to erode.
"This has been an alien notion in Washington for far too long," he said. "But we are seeing that the ways of Washington are beginning to change."
The president will travel to the central state of Indiana on Sunday, to deliver the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. Some students and others plan to boycott Mr. Obama's address at the Roman Catholic university because of his support for abortion rights.