Vice President Biden to Step Up Role in White House Health Care Reform Push

By Britt

Sep 18, 2009 6:16pm

ABC News' Karen Travers reports: Vice President Biden will step up his role in the Obama Administration's push for health care reform next week, with two speeches and a more concerted outreach to his former colleagues in the Senate, a senior administration official said Friday. President Obama will be focusing on foreign policy and national security next week when he travels to the United Nations General Assembly meeting and the G20 summit. Biden's role will be to keep up the administration's health care efforts and put to good use his decades of relationships on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday Biden will deliver remarks on health insurance reform to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The following day he will talk to seniors at the Leisure World retirement community in Silver Spring, MD. Biden will seek to reassure senior citizens that health care reform will not affect them negatively; their Medicare coverage will remain as strong for them as it is now, and their coverage will be better in the long run because reform will strengthen the overall system. The vice president will be joined at the senior citizens event by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House health czar Nancy-Ann DeParle. Biden will more actively engage his former colleagues in the Senate than he has thus far in the reform debate. A senior administration official said Biden would talk to both Democrats and Republicans with whom he has had long relationships in an effort to continue a push for bipartisanship.
Biden has over three decades of experience in the Senate, but his signature issues have been foreign policy and judicial and criminal matters. The vice president just returned from a three-day trip to Iraq, his third visit there this year. This summer Biden added Iraq to his policy portfolio at the request of President Obama and he has been the administration's point person on the Recovery Act since its implementation earlier this year. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was vague last week when asked what role the Vice President was taking in the administration's push for health care reform. "Obviously the Vice President brings extensive knowledge of a number of members of Congress, knowledge that the President relied on in the buildup in the days ahead of the speech, in the discussions, the policy discussions, that we had here," Gibbs said. "And he will continue to rely on his knowledge and his expertise in moving this legislation forward." -Karen Travers

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