Obama: Summer is 'make or break' for healthcare

President Obama proclaimed the summer congressional session a critical time to move forward on healthcare reform before a meeting with 20 Democratic senators at the White House.

“This window between now and the August recess, I think, is going to be the make-or-break period,” Obama said. “This is the time where we have got to get this done.”

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Even as Republicans continued to criticize the administration’s plans to overhaul the system, the president said he is confident he can sign some legislation reforming healthcare this year.

The president thanked Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) for their efforts, and said he spoke with ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) earlier in the day.

Obama described Kennedy as “gung-ho” on the issue and eager to offer “a whole range of ideas.”

“He is very enthusiastic about our progress,” Obama said of Kennedy, who had been expected to be in Washington on Tuesday.

In his remarks before a closed-door meeting with the senators, the president said healthcare “is not a luxury,” but he also acknowledged that passing healthcare legislation “is going to be a heavy lift.”

“It's not something that I want to do because of campaign promises or politics,” Obama said. “This is a necessity. This is something that has to be done.”