Still Looking For GOP Votes

Even as Democrats in the Congress move further and further away from what Republicans want to do on health care reform, President Obama is still reaching out to GOP lawmakers in hopes of finding support.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Obama hosted four Republican Senators, Murkowski of Alaska, Collins of Maine, Corker of Tennessee and Chambliss of Georgia, trying to see if they could find a way forward on reform.

"We agree on the need for reforms," Sen. Chambliss told me last evening, but the Georgia Senator said he didn't see much movement among his colleagues.

One issue was how to pay for reform - the "pay-fors" as they are called.

"There are problems with the pay-fors," Chambliss said, adding that the President had specifically asked him if he could support the surtaxes on the wealthy in the House bill unveiled by Democrats on Tuesday.

"I'm not for raising taxes, period," was the message from Chambliss.

I asked Chambliss whether this was LBJ-style lobbying, and the answer was no, this was "very low key" lobbying by a President who used to be a Senate colleague.

"We all know him," said Chambliss, who added that Obama told the group that he had called them down because he found them to be "reasonable" members.

"He did say he wants to get this done," said Chambliss, which was exactly the message that Obama had sent earlier in the day from the Rose Garden.

That timetable though has made Republicans angry, and some Democrats unsettled too, worried that a bill is going to get jammed through the House and Senate without enough review.

The goal is still a vote in the House and Senate on their respective bills by the end of July/early August.

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