Lawmakers are currently in the midst of intense debate over how best to reform healthcare and may not meet the president’s deadline to pass legislation before they leave Washington for the August recess. An informal poll of more than half of the Congressional Black Caucus members on Wednesday found that several are uncertain whether it will be possible. Reps. Robert Scott of Virginia and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina said that it was more important to “get it right” than to meet a deadline.
Some people believe that not getting this legislation passed could be a defining moment that will reshape the rest of Obama’s presidency by emboldening Republicans who have strongly opposed Democratic-led proposals.
Initially, said Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, “Once they feel like they’ve got a foothold, they’ll fee free to attack him and the time he takes fending that off is time and energy that could be used to move forward and get things done. I think it would be hurtful.”
Alabama Rep. Artur Davis has a different view. “The public wants to know one thing and that is when this economy is going to turn around. They’re going to judge his presidency next year before the midterms based on what happens on the economy and if it turns around, he’ll get credit for that,” said Davis.
Interestingly, the biggest news of the night centered on race rather than healthcare when Obama was asked about the arrest last week of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates.
“… I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact,” said Obama.