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Republicans wary of Obama's health care summit

[ 2010-02-10 14:35]     字号 [] [] []  
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Republicans wary of Obama's health care summit

U.S. President Barack Obama has invited opposition Republicans in Congress to take part in a bipartisan health-care summit later this month in an effort to revive stalled health-care reform legislation. But House Republican leaders have reacted with skepticism, saying Democrats would have to scrap their bills and start over.

In an interview with CBS News, President Obama challenged Republican lawmakers, who have been united against sweeping Democratic health-care reform proposals, to bring their own ideas to a live-televised summit at the White House on February 25.

"And what I want to do is to ask them to put their ideas on the table and then after the recess, which will be a few weeks away, I want to come back and have a large meeting, Republicans and Democrats, to go through systematically all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward," he said.

The president said he would ask Republicans specifically what their plan is to extend health-insurance coverage to the more than 30 million uninsured Americans and what they would do to prevent insurance companies from excluding people with pre-existing conditions.

The White House wants the half-day summit televised, which would give the president an opportunity to try to win more public support for his unpopular health-care reform. It would also rebut criticism from Republican lawmakers they have been left out of the process and the House and Senate bills were negotiated in backroom deals.

In a letter Monday to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor indicated Republicans may not participate unless the White House scraps existing Democratic reform bills, calling them "job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected."

The battle over health care has virtually consumed Congress since last June.

The Senate and House of Representatives passed separate versions of health-care legislation last year. They were working to merge the two bills into one when a special Massachusetts election for the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy's senate seat cut the process short.

Republican Senator Scott Brown won the seat, putting an end to the Democrats 60-seat majority, which made it possible for Republicans to block legislation in the Senate.

Since that stinging defeat last month, Democratic lawmakers have been anxious to shift the focus away from health care to job creation and boosting the economy before congressional elections in November.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said unemployment is the number-one issue keeping Americans awake at night.

"And that is why we are dedicating this year to a lot of things, but our number-one emphasis is going to be creating jobs," he said. "It is a plan that will create the right conditions for the private sector."

In his State of the Union address, President Obama also said he wanted to make job creation his top priority, but he also made it clear that he would not turn his back on health-care reform.

rebut: to say or prove that a statement or criticism is false 反驳;驳斥;证明(言论等)错误

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(来源:VOA 编辑:陈丹妮)