Sen. Ready for Health Care Reconciliation

Number two Democrat in the Senate, Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), spoke about what will happen in the Senate if the House passes health care legislation Sunday. CBS

Number two Democrat in the Senate, Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), spoke about what will happen in the Senate if the House passes health care legislation Sunday. He spoke with "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer about steps he and other Senate Democrats are taking to get health care legislation passed.

"Last week [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid (D-Nev.), our leader, and Sen. [Charles] Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. [Patricia] Murray (D-Wash.) and I have met with every democratic senator face-to-face so that we understand the importance of this vote," said Mr. Durbin. "I think our members are impressed by the substance of our challenge here. If we do nothing, as the Republicans suggest, we're going to see health care costs reach a point where small businesses can't afford and families can't afford it. We're going to see people turned down from pre-existing conditions. We're going to find the Medicare donut hole - a gap in coverage - that is going to hurt a lot of seniors. So when you get to the substance beyond the politics of the next election, we think this is a clear choice."

Mr. Durbin spoke about a letter from at least 51 Senate Democrats exists promising members of the House that the Senate will pass corrections to the original Senate bill that House Democrats want. The letter is a promise that those changes will happen.

"[The letter] has been discussed with Sen. Reed and [House] Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.)," said Mr. Durbin. "She knows and we know that there is a majority to pass this reconciliation bill in the Senate Democratic caucus."

He added, "I think there may even be more than 51. The speaker knows this. She's spoken directly to Sen. Reed. At this point we're ready to move forward."

Continuing, he said, "Understand, health care reform, if the House passes both today, is a law that will be sent to the president. We will have health care reform in America. The reconciliation bill which the house is, I hope, also going to pass makes it even better."

On whether Senate Republicans could propose amendments for the sake of holding up the reconciliation process, Mr. Durbin said, "We're going to deal with honest amendments on substance that meet the test of the senate rules, but there will come a point when the American people and the people in the Senate are going to say, this isn't about substance, but all about politics. Let's make a final decision. Up or down vote. Do you want to change the problems we face in health care today? It's certainly a majority of democrats do. Or do you want to stand by the health insurance companies and keep the problems we have going. I'm afraid that's where the Republicans are.

"We owe it to the American people to finish this job," he said.

More from Face the Nation:

Do Dems Have the Votes for Health Care?
Mitch McConnell: We Owe It to Public to Block Bill

More Coverage of the Health Care Reform Debate:

House Begins Historic Health Care Debate
The Hunt for Health Care Votes: Democrats to Watch
Obama to House: Health Care Reform is in Your Hands
CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care
CBS Sunday Morning: Obama's Bill of Health
Rep.: Protesters Yelled Racial Slurs
Schedule for House Health Care Vote
House Dems Abandon "Slaughter Solution" for Health Bill
Obama Has Given 54 Speeches on Health Care
Obama Deploys Personal Presidential Touch
Dem Health Care Bill Pegged at $940B Over 10 Years

Details of the Bill:

What's in Health Care Bill? Take a Dose
Health Care Special Deals: What's Left In?
Dems Include Student Aid Reform Package in Bill
Health Care Bill Extends Tax to Investments
Read the Text (PDF): Complete Senate Bill | Reconciliation Measure
  • David Riedel

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