Gibbs: Obama to monitor health progress

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Obama established the August deadline for reaching a congressional bill on healthcare reform to “poke and prod Congress into moving.”

“Without poking and prodding not a lot gets done” in Washington, Gibbs said on "Fox News Sunday."

ADVERTISEMENT
Gibbs said that the president will monitor the progress Congress will make throughout this week and if enough progress has been made by Friday "having lawmakers go home for their regularly scheduled August recess is probably a good thing." The House is scheduled to start its August recess at the end of this week, while the Senate is in session another week.

Gibbs attempted to paint a positive picture of the congressional stalemate over healthcare reform. He said that there is already 80 percent agreement over how reform should proceed and the sticking point is the remaining 20 percent.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), on the same program, stressed that taking the August recess “is a very good thing,” in order to get a chance to talk to constituents and let them give their input before legislation is done. “If they do…we’ll make a much wiser decision,” Kyl said.

Kyl also said that it is “unlikely” that the Senate Finance Committee will produce a bill by the August recess, and cast doubt that Democrats and Republicans will be able to reach a compromise. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Finance Committee ranking member, “has had a hard time” getting any agreements on the Republican proposals, said Kyl, who is also a member of the committee.

Kyl said that the GOP is opposed to redesigning the entire healthcare system, but rather find specific solutions to problems in the system that raise the cost.

Kyl also said that Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and therefore it is not the Republicans who are holding up the healthcare bill, but rather a fractured Democratic caucus.