Dems Under Deadline to Pass Health Care Bill

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THE WHITE HOUSE -- The Democrats have just a week to pass health care reform. That's the deadline President Obama has given to Congress.

Still, Republicans say they can't vote for the bill. They warn it will be far too expensive.

President Obama leaves the country on an overseas trip on March 18, which is Thursday of next week. He says he wants both the House and Senate to pass the massive and controversial health care reform by then.

He's trying to add some pressure by hitting the campaign trail and attempting to whip up public support.

"We need to pass health care reform; not next year, not five years from now , not 10 years from now, but now," Obama said.

However, Republicans say the bill is too much government and too unpopular and they won't support it.

"Please don't do this, just, please. I'll work with you to find a smaller bill that the American people feel more comfortable about," said Sen. Lindsey graham, R-SC, during an appearance on the CBS news program "Face The Nation."

Members of the GOP are also angry over Obama pushing Senate Democrats to use a parliamentary maneuver called reconciliation, which will let them pass the huge overhaul with just 51 votes rather than the normal 60.

"They seem bent on forcing this very unpopular bill upon us," said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

But it's Obama's fellow Democrats who could well derail reform, with a number of them in the house balking. For instance, pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. and a dozen or so allies refusing to vote for the bill if there's any chance federal dollars will pay for abortion.

One of the biggest problems is the price tag for overhauling something that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy.  The Republicans estimate Obamacare will cost $2.5 trillion in the next 10 years.

With Obama's policies altogether set to add more than $9.7 trillion to the nation's debt over the next decade, they say it's just too much.

"People are very, very skeptical about starting a whole new government program when we're drowning in a sea of debt," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on ABC-TV's "This Week."

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.