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President Obama said Sunday he wants to include Republicans as well as Democrats in meetings aimed at trying to salvage the health care reform package stalled in Congress.
Obama told CBS News' anchor Katie Couric in an interview taped before the Super Bowl that "I want to ask them [the Republicans] to put their ideas on the table, and then after the [congressional] recess, which will be a few weeks away, I want to come back and have a large meeting, the Republicans and Democrats, to go through systematically all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward."
The Washington Post reported that Obama had invited Republicans to take part in a half-day summit that would be televised live later this month, just as his meeting last week with House Republicans at their Baltimore retreat was open to cameras.
Obama's offer reflected both the political reality that health care reform is in jeopardy after the loss of the Democrats' 60-vote majority in the Senate, which allowed them to shut down filibusters. It also reflected Obama's sensitivity to the criticism that the shaping of the legislation had not met his promise of transparency, something that he acknowledged at the Republican retreat.
House Minority Leader John Boehner told the Post he was "pleased that the White House finally seems interested in a real, bipartisan conversation on health care." He said, "The best way to start on real, bipartisan reform would be to scrap those bills and focus on the kind of step-by-step improvements that will lower health care costs and expand access."
But, a White House official told the Post, "This is not starting over. Don't make any mistake about that. We are coming with our plan. They can bring their plan."
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