The House's No. 2 Democrat conceded that there are no easy solutions to saving President Obama's health care overhaul and said he doesn't expect him to lay out a roadmap for reform during his State of the Union Wednesday.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, speaking at the National Press Club on Tuesday, said Democrats are taking time to find the best way of making reform a reality. The Maryland Democrat also said lawmakers face four options -- no bill, a scaled-back measure, the House passing the Senate bill and the House passing the Senate bill accompanied by some changes to accommodate House Democrats.
"All these choices have pluses and minuses," Hoyer said, adding that there are "no easy choices."
But Hoyer stressed, "the objective of accessible, affordable, quality care remains."
Of the president's State of the Union address Wednesday, Hoyer said, "I would be surprised if he would say specifically how he hopes to get health care done," noting that he anticipated Obama to focus instead on jobs and the economy.
"By next week, we need to come to focus on how we want to move forward," he said. "We're trying to figure out what is possible."
Democratic leaders are scrambling to save the legislation after losing the Democratic Senate seat in Massachusetts last week and their filibuster-proof majority. Democrats were trying to merge House and Senate versions of the landmark legislation into a single, unified package, but the election of Senate-elect Scott Brown, R-Mass., stripped Democrats of the 60 votes required to block a Republican filibuster. Brown’s victory brought the health care negotiations to a screeching halt and forced Democrats to scrap the old calculus of how they intended a pass a bill.
No new strategy has emerged as of yet, and Hoyer said Tuesday that Democrats have not given themselves a deadline.
Hoyer refuted any speculation that Democrats could potentially drop health care reform altogether and focus instead on the economy, saying, "I have not found any member who says 'drop it. Let us turn away.'"
He also downplayed criticism that Democrats wasted valuable time on health care reform in 2009 when they should have instead focused on the economy, pointing out that one of the first pieces of legislation the House approved last year was the stimulus package. House Democrats also approved a smaller economic package just before the winter recess, he noted.
"Anyone who thinks we were distracted by health care was not watching what we were doing last year," he said.
Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.