Conrad: Democrats Alone Can’t Pass Health Care

By Jennifer Parker

Jul 26, 2009 10:17am

Despite their 60-vote majority in the Senate, a top Democrat argued today that Democrats alone can’t pull health care reform through Congress.


“There are not the votes for Democrats to do this just on our side of the aisle,” Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a key player in the health care reform effort on Capitol Hill said during an exclusive health care debate this morning with Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., on “This Week.”


“It’s just not possible to have a Democrat-only bill?” I asked Sen. Conrad.


“No, it is not possible,” he told me, “and perhaps not desirable either. We’re probably going to get a better product if we go through the tough business of debate, consideration, and analysis of what we’re proposing.”


Conrad would not commit to Obama’s August recess deadline for health reform legislation.


“Look the critical think is that we do get this right. This is going to affect every American. Very few legislative initiatives affect every single American. And it’s one-sixth of the national economy, so it’s critically important we get it right. But that shouldn’t be used as a pretext to kill it,” Conrad told me on “This Week.” 


Conrad added, “Jim, I think has been very clear, he wants to kill it. And I think that would be a tragedy because we’ve got a crisis here for the country.”


On “This Week” DeMint defended his recent war of words with the president — arguing the health care issue could be Obama’s “Waterloo” and will “break him.”


“This is not personal against the president. I like the president. But he’s out of control and he’s been leading a stampede of more spending, and debt, and taxes and government takeovers,” DeMint told me this morning.


“Republicans want to protect the right of Americans to make their own health care decisions, to pick their own doctors and their own plans,” DeMint said.


“We could have a plan in a few weeks, George, if the goal is not a government takeover,” DeMint said, adding, “this is about the most personal service that Americans have. We don’t want to a bureaucrat [in charge].”


–George Stephanopoulos

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