Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assured President Obama his chamber will pass a bill allotting more funds for the hugely popular cash-for-clunkers program, before the senate leaves town for their August recess Friday.
Following a lunch with Mr Obama at the White House, senate democratic leaders briefed the press on what they characterized as a "wonderful time" spent with the president. 57 of the 60 senate democrats, Senators Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd and Barbara Mikulski were all absent for health reasons, attended the lunch.
Reid was confident in saying he does indeed have the votes needed to pass cash-for-clunkers. On health care, the main topic of discussion over lunch, Reid also expressed confidence, saying legislation would get done by the end of the year. "We understand that before year's end we're going to get comprehensive health care reform," said Reid. "Everyone recognizes that we are going to do, if there's any way humanly possible, a bipartisan bill."
It was a sentiment shared by Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. "We're going to be gone for a month," speaking of the August recess. "In that month that we're gone, 500,000 people will lose their health care coverage in the United States, 14,000 people a day," said Dodd, who will be under going surgery soon for prostate cancer. "We need to come back with a renewed sense of purpose that we're going to do everything possible to bring that sense of certainty and stability to the American public that they no longer have to worry at night as to whether or not they have the coverage or the opportunity for care if they get into trouble."
And it was that theme - returning from recess energized - that seems to have been the message received by the senate dems.
Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus described today's lunch as a "symphony" and gushed over the time he spent with President Obama saying, "He is so good. He just has it together. He's for all the right reasons," said the Montana senator, "It was, therefore, a great motivation by our leader to go out in this month of August, and we're going to get this done for the right reasons, because it's the right thing to do."
President Obama, who celebrates his 48 birthday today, apparently received several standing ovations during the lunch. According to the Majority Leader, "kind of reminded me of the days when I was an athlete and the coach was giving you a pep talk before the game," said Reid. "You came out of that pep talk that the coach gave you ready to take on the world. We're ready to take on the world."