Gibbs: Obama to soon announce 'path forward' for healthcare reform effort

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to say whether Obama would endorse the use of controversial budget reconciliation rules in the Senate that would allow the bill to move through that chamber with 51 votes.

Gibbs said the president was encouraged by Thursday’s healthcare summit, as the seven-hour session revealed common areas of agreement between the parties. He said he’ll look to incorporate those areas into an “updated proposal on how to move forward.”

Gibbs refused to speculate on the substance of Obama's announcement except to say he expected it to come around the middle part of the week.

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When asked if the president was endorsing the use of reconciliation rules, which would prevent Republicans from filibustering the healthcare bill, Gibbs said: “I'm going to let him make a decision, and he'll communicate that next week.”

Obama suggested he'd favor using reconciliation in comments at the nationally televised summit with Democratic and GOP congressional leaders.

He also argued that the the public cares more about what Congress does than how it does it.

“I think the American people aren't always all that interested in procedures inside the Senate,” Obama said. “I do think that they want a vote on how we’re going to move this vote. And I think most Americans think a majority vote makes sense.”

In the end, Obama maintained, he and Democrats would act and leave it to voters to decide whether they had acted wisely. “That’s what elections are for,” he said.

Gibbs on Friday followed the president and other Democrats in rejecting Republican calls to scrap the legislation and start over, pointing to insurance companies that are raising their rates while the debate continues.

“Insurance companies are not starting over,” Gibbs said.

After the president told lawmakers at the summit that he wanted them to do some “soul-searching” and take as much as a month or six weeks to make a decision, Gibbs hinted that the White House expects to see rapid movement on the issue.

“I think this is a fairly dynamic process that will happen over the next several days,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said he was unaware of whether the White House has been reaching out to lawmakers after the summit, but he said Obama’s healthcare czar, Nancy-Ann DeParle, was planning to talk to both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.