WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a brief press availability with Chairman Charles Rangel, Chairman Henry Waxman, Chairman George Miller, and Chairwoman Louise Slaughter following their meeting this afternoon with President Obama at the White House to discuss health care legislation. The following is a partial transcript due to an incomplete audio recording.
"...We've had a very intense couple of days with meetings in our leadership, meetings with our staff. After our leadership meeting this morning, our staffs engaged with the Senate and the Administration's staff to review the legislation, suggest legislative language. I think we're very close to reconciliation, respectful of the challenges -- policy and otherwise -- in the House and in the Senate.
"But we would not be at this historic moment without the leadership of President Obama -- with his commitment to health care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege. So we thank him for his vision and his leadership. We also thank him for his time and his attention to the details of the legislation.
"Thank you all."
Q: Could you tell us a couple things that you're hoping that will be adopted from the House bill that you think that...
Speaker Pelosi: Any of our Chairmen wish to speak to that?
What we're talking about is affordability and accountability. And I think that in both of the bills, the makings for great legislation is evident and present in both bills. So, it's not a question of adopting this or that. It's about addressing and meeting the needs of the American people -- that this be affordable for the middle class -- and to do that we have to hold the insurance companies accountable. Any legislation would have to be judged as to how it did that. Again, with the third "A" -- providing affordable access to affordable, quality health care at lower cost for the American people.
Q: Do you anticipate that these bills will be passed by the end of the month?
Chairwoman Louise Slaughter: That's our hope.
Speaker Pelosi: It's possible, it's possible.
Chairman Charles Rangel: The President has been very patient with his time and understanding that we have to get 218 votes and we really have to be able to sell it -- not just to our Democratic Caucus, but to the American people. And we could not have asked the President to be more cooperative -- even though he's doing more listening than talking.
Speaker Pelosi: But we will bring the bill to the floor when we are ready. And hopefully that will be soon.
Q: What are the continuing areas of difference with the Senate at this point?
Speaker Pelosi: You know, we have so much area of agreement that I prefer to focus on that. I'd prefer to focus on that.
Q: How about the differences? Is the public option still a difference? Is that still a problem?
Speaker Pelosi: Again, we are walking through the bills right now -- the House and Senate and the staff of the Administration. And the staff goes through -- we have selected a few items that we want to take primary responsibility for, but the staff I am sure will -- their discussions will yield a few more areas.
It actually -- the truth is that there is so much agreement in the bills but sometimes we approach the issue differently. So we have to figure out what the best approach is to the issues.
Q: What are the few areas that you have taken responsibility for?
Speaker Pelosi: Accountability for the insurance industry, affordability for the middle class, and access for quality health care for all Americans. And we all are committed to fiscal responsibility that has to accompany this bill. Because if every person in America loved the health insurance and loved the health care that they had, we would still have to undertake this because the present system is unsustainable. We can't afford the upward spiral of medical costs in our country.
As the President has said, health care reform is entitlement reform for reasons that affect the lives of working families in America, of seniors in our country, young people, our veterans, you name it, everyone benefits by the passage of this legislation.
Thank you all very much.
SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House