Fresh from a pep talk at the White House today, Minnesota's senators said president Obama emphasized to lawmakers embroiled in a complex health care battle that they must not forget the broader goals of the reform effort.
"[Obama] made a lot of I think good points about how everyone’s been here a long time, everyone’s tired, but you think about these people out there without health care and you think about what we’re fighting for here," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who noted that the gathering of 60 Democrat senators at the White House also touched on specific elements of the bill.
She added that she is "optimistic" the bill will pass the Senate by the self-imposed Christmas deadline -- only 10 days from now -- noting that "the key thing is to set aside the differences and get it done."
Sen. Al Franken said in a statement that Obama's talk refocused the discussion.
"The President put this debate into a really important perspective today and reminded us to keep our eye on the end goal: we’re on the verge of being able to cover millions of Americans and stop the explosion of health care costs for families," Franken said.
Both senators are waiting for a report, expected this week from the Congressional Budget Office, which will spell out more concretely the specific implications of the Senate bill.
Causing the most concern for Democrats in recent days has been Sen. Joe Lieberman, who threatened his support because of a plan to include some form of a government-run insurance option in the bill. Lieberman stood up at the White House meeting and announced that he was "inclined to be supportive based on what he’s hearing about some of the cost issues," Klobuchar said.
As Democrats begin to imagine life without a public option, however, Klobuchar indicated that the absense of that provision likely won't change her vote.
"I’ll vote for a bill if it doesn’t have a public option as long as it has some very … strong provisions that will promote competition."