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Congress facing 'no easy choices' on health bill

WASHINGTON - There are no simple fixes for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, the No. 2 House Democrat said yesterday, as supporters agonized over whether to move the bill forward or hit the pause button until political resistance subsides.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer insisted that the goal remains to pass far-reaching legislation that would expand coverage, reduce costs and improve quality. But difficulties increased as moderate Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) - both facing re-election this year in Republican-leaning states - said they would oppose the strategy Democratic leaders are considering to reconcile the House and Senate bills.

"There are no easy choices," said Hoyer (D-Md.).

"There is no rush," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said after a luncheon meeting of Democrats that focused on jobs and the economy, not health care. Reid said he'll keep talking with House Democrats and White House officials.

Obama is unlikely to delve into the strategy tonight for passing a bill, Hoyer said, but he is expected to stress the importance of getting comprehensive legislation along the lines of what the House and Senate passed.

Democrats now have four options, Hoyer said: No bill, a scaled-back measure designed to attract some Republican support, the House passing the Senate bill, or the House passing the Senate bill with both chambers making changes to bridge their differences.


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