Transcript of Pelosi, House Democratic Leaders' Press Availability Today Following Leadership Meeting

Jan 19, 2010, 17:50 ET from Office of the Speaker of the House

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn held a press availability this afternoon in the Capitol following a Democratic leadership meeting. Below is a transcript of their remarks:

Speaker Pelosi: Good afternoon.

As you may be aware, we just had a meeting of our leadership. In spite of all the activity that I know you're aware of in Massachusetts and the rest, we're still on course -- resolving the differences between the House and the Senate bill. We have revenue and investment issues that we've sent to the CBO already, and now we're dealing with some of the policy issues. So we're right on course. We will have a health care reform bill, and it will be soon.

With that, I yield to Steny Hoyer.

Majority Leader Hoyer: Well, I talked to many of you earlier today. I think a lot of people there -- I think many of you were there. We are continuing to work as we have been working over the last month to resolve the differences between the Senate and the House bills. Something that we told the American people we would do in the last election and indeed -- that we would try to do in the election before that. And that is provide affordable, accessible health care for all Americans. We're going to continue to work on that until we get it done.

Speaker Pelosi: Mr. Clyburn?

Majority Whip Clyburn: We're working. [Laughter.]

Speaker Pelosi: We're very happy that our Members will be back tonight so that we can consult with them about some resolutions that we need to come up with -- resolutions of differences that we have to come up with.

But I really salute the President for his leadership in moderating the discussion, moderating the policy, and taking us to the place that we are now -- which is on the brink of being able to pass this legislation. And regardless of what happens in Massachusetts, we believe that that will happen.

Q: Madam Speaker, you have said or made clear before that there aren't the votes for the Senate bill in the House. Do you still think that's the case, and more broadly, have you heard directly from the White House informally that that's what they want you to do?

Speaker Pelosi: No, I have not heard that. I have not heard that.

Q: ...and what about the votes?

Speaker Pelosi: We are on the path that we are on, which is -- Steny, do you want to say -- to reconcile our differences, as Mr. Hoyer says.

Majority Leader Hoyer: Our position is we have -- as is always the case. The Senate has passed a bill, we passed a bill, and what we're working on is to reconcile the differences between those two bills and place a reconciled -- in effect, a conference report -- it won't be technically a conference report -- on the floor of the House and the Senate. That is our intent and that is what we're working toward.

Q: In your meeting now or in other meetings over the past few days, have you discussed the possible implications of a Republican victory in Massachusetts on the Senate...negotiating the bill...

Speaker Pelosi: Regardless of what happens in Massachusetts, we still have to resolve the difference between our two bills. We still have to communicate with our Members about the direction they want us to go with certain particular issues. Issues like the commission, the report on what we have heard back now on the excise tax -- you know what some of those issues are. And we have some policy issues to deal with that we had put off for this week because we needed to focus on what the CBO -- the Congressional Budget Office needed for last week.

But our eye is on the ball of passing legislation. In order to do that, we have to resolve some differences, establish some priorities, make some decisions and that's what we're doing. Whatever happens in Massachusetts, we have to do that, and whatever happens in Massachusetts, we will pass quality, affordable health care for all Americans and it will be soon.

And we thank the President for his leadership.

Thank you all.

SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House