President Obama's health-care address to Congress Wednesday has drawn
mixed reactions on Capitol Hill, with Democratic lawmakers saying they
are inspired to move forward quickly on health care reform
legislation. But Several Republican lawmakers say they remain
Democratic lawmakers were out in force Thursday praising President Obama's health care speech as a "game-changer," and appeared energized to move forward on legislation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said reforming the U.S. health-care system is probably the most important initiative Congress would ever take up, and that she is confident the president will sign a bill this year.
"That we'll pass health care reform, health insurance reform that will work, that will work for the American people. As the president has said, lower in cost, improving quality, expanding coverage, and retaining choice," she said.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said President Obama had staked out "high moral ground" by using the speech to reach out to Republican lawmakers, and especially to independents [voters] among the American people.
"The ball is now clearly in the court of the Republican Party," he said. "Are they going to continue to just say "NO", or will they meet us part of the way?"
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois called the speech "specific" on details and bipartisan. But Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona strongly disagreed.
"I though the speech was partisan, uninformative, disingenuous and not likely to encourage those who have honest disagreements with him to be able to work towards some kind of common solution," he said.
Senator Kyl said Republicans would work on introducing a series of six or seven separate bills on changing the current health-care system.
Republican Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia said he saw a striking disconnect between the message the president delivered and the fear that is prevalent among so many Americans that the health insurance they have now may be replaced by government-run health care.
President Obama promised Americans in his speech that if they are happy with the health-care insurance they have now, there is nothing in proposed legislation that would force them to change.
Before health-care legislation can be approved, lawmakers will have to hammer out bills in each house of Congress, and merge them into one before to sending the plan to President Obama's desk.
Senate Finance Committee negotiators were set to resume talks Thursday to try to find bipartisan agreement on a bill, although Democratic committee chairman Max Baucus said Wednesday he is ready to move forward without Republican support if he must. Vice President Joe Biden says he believes health care reform legislation will be passed before the American Thanksgiving holiday in late November.