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Health-care-bill strategy: Get it done

Democrats and Republicans may not agree on what the strategy for health-care reform should be, but they do seem to be almost unanimous on what it has become: Get it done now, by any means possible.

WASHINGTON — Democrats and Republicans may not agree on what the strategy for health care reform should be, but they do seem to be almost unanimous on what it has become: Get it done now, by any means possible.

Here’s Republican Rep. John Kline, writing in Roll Call Monday: “Democrats have stubbornly continued their go-it-alone strategy that creates the false choice of radical changes to health care or no changes at all.”

And here’s President Barack Obama, speaking to a crowd at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa.: “The United States Congress owes the American people a final, up or down vote on health care. It’s time to make a decision. The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand.”

The goal is to have a vote in the House by the end of next week, when Obama leaves for a trip to Guam, Indonesia and Australia. After that, a “fix bill” would be passed by both the House and Senate by Easter recess, requiring the Senate to use reconciliation rules to ensure they only need 51 votes, rather than the 60 that would be required to break an almost-certain Republican filibuster attempt.

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Somewhere along the way Obama would sign both bills (the original Senate bill first, so that the “fix” would trump it as the later legislation), and then turn his attention to the economy in the run-up to the mid-term elections.

It’s hard to know whether Democrats can actually meet that timeline — MinnPost’s D.C. office doesn’t contain a crystal ball — but that’s the plan right now.