By Jared Allen - 01/19/10 05:41 PM EST
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday said passing the
Senate healthcare bill would be “clearly better than nothing.”
The second-ranking House Democrat said “moving ahead on healthcare is essential,” regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s special election to fill the seat held for four decades by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).
A Republican victory would end Democrats’ 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority.
Hoyer said he was making “no judgments” about the merits of the Senate legislation over the House, but said emphatically, “I think the Senate bill is clearly better than nothing.”
Hoyer, who has shown more openness to the Senate bill than any other House leader, said Democrats are still working to combine elements of both bills.
Hoyer dodged questions about how Democrats would go forward without a 60th vote in the Senate, saying he did not want to “anticipate or speculate or hypothesize” on the outcome of the Massachusetts race. But he admitted that rushing a finished product through both chambers before Brown could be sworn in was a possibility.
Asked if it was “feasible” to pass a healthcare bill in next 15 days, prior to the Massachusetts election certification, Hoyer said, “Yes.”