Pelosi: Getting health bill more important than bipartisanship

Getting healthcare reform done was more important than getting Republican votes for the measure, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday.

The top House Democrat said that despite the Democrats best efforts to attract GOP support for the overhaul, Democratic leaders thought it best to forge ahead with existing legislation without Republican votes instead of making more changes to get Republican votes. 

In an interview set to air on PBS' "Newshour" Wednesday night, host Jim Lehrer asked Pelosi if she was comfortable with a "one-party government." She responded:

Bipartisanship is not more important than a little child who is sick being deprived of coverage because he has a preexisting condition.  It’s not more important that woman can stop being – just being a woman is no longer a preexisting medical condition; that if you lose your job, you lose your insurance; that if you want to start a business or be self-employed or change jobs, you’re not job-locked; that the insurance companies don’t have it over your head that they can increase your rates and you’re at their mercy.  That’s more important than getting a few Republican votes, although the president tried very hard to do so, and I respect that. 

Republicans railed against Democratic leaders throughout the healthcare debate, saying that they were trying to jam the bill "down the throats" of the public without their support, or that of the GOP.

But Democrats responded, often led by Pelosi, that the legislation adopted over 200 Republican amendments. President Barack Obama made frequent overtures to Republican lawmakers, such as Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. 

Obama also appeared before the House Republicans' retreat in January to field questions and debate them on the overhaul.

Senate Finance Committee (R-Iowa) Wednesday appeared to acknowledge, at least tacitly, that Republican ideas had been included in the legislation, releasing a statement touting tax-exempt hospital provisions in the bill he helped negotiate.

In the end, no Republicans supported the bill, saying that it would do too much damage to the economy and the healthcare system.