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March 5, 2015

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Harry Reid: ‘There is no rush’ on health care reform

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Senator Harry Reid speaks during a news conference on the construction site of McCarran International Airport's new terminal Tuesday, January 12, 2009.

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to press on with health care reform today while insisting “there is no rush” to finish the landmark legislation that has become stalled after last week’s election of a Republican senator from Massachusetts.

Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi huddled this afternoon in what Pelosi called a “constructive meeting.”

Congress is turning its attention toward a jobs bill in advance of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Speech on Wednesday.

Yet talks continue between the House and Senate on a path forward for health care reform.

The chambers are debating whether it would be possible for the House to pass the Senate’s version of the health reform bill, and follow it up quickly with supplemental legislation to address issues House members oppose.

“This time and this form, there are not the votes in the House – not anywhere near – to pass the Senate bill,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi said that rounding up the votes to pass the bill with supplemental adjustments “depends on what the fixes are.”

The process would require a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate rather than the 60 votes typically needed to pass legislation.

Reid outlined the Senate’s agenda for the new year now that Democrats have lost their 60-seat majority with the election of Republican Scott Brown from Massachusetts.

“We’re going to create more jobs, many of them clean energy jobs, we’re going to reform Wall Street and we’re going to finish our historic obligation, opportunity to address health care,” Reid said.

On health care, Reid added, “there is no rush.” Others insist Democrats have a limited window to revisit the bill before the fall campaigns.

Jobs will be the first order of business as Congress continues its efforts to tackle the issue most pressing on voters’ minds.

The House in December passed a $154 billion jobs package that involves redirecting $75 billion from the Wall Street bailout fund to new projects to build roads, rehab public buildings, improve water systems and develop renewable energy.

The bill also includes an expansion of safety net programs, including unemployment insurance, small business loans and the continuation of a subsidy to help the jobless continue paying for their employee-sponsored health insurance.

The Senate is considering a separate bill.

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