Clinton Pays Visit, But Healthcare Bill Not Likely This Year

Former President Bill Clinton traveled to Capitol Hill Tuesday to push his colleagues to do something he could not do in 1993-94 -- pass a healthcare overhaul bill.

It was clear that Clinton still has the power to mezmerize Dems.  Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD, emerged positively bubbling over with effusive praise of the former president.

A number of participants afterward said Clinton urged them to complete a bill ASAP, because if they do not they will become defined by the defeat.

The former president, a student of politics, told his fellow Dems that 'not getting it done is not a good political option' -- and that if they do get it done, 'The public will see the sky didn't fall down.'  Cardin said the later was a "near quote."

It seems almost impossible for Congress to get a bill to President Obama's desk this year. Members will be off for the rest of the week in observance of Veteran's Day.  The Senate's number 2 Dem, Dick Durbin of Illinois, told reporters, "Our goal is to make sure it is out of the Senate this year...I wish we could complete it this year. But if we don't, we will get it done."

Clinton, for his part, emerged and said he told Dems, "This is an economic imperative," remembering the days just after he left office when there was a surplus.

"I just urged them to resolve their differences and pass a bill," Clinton told reporters.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said Clinton told Dems they should get healthcare done and immediately follow that with work on jobs and the ballooning budget deficit, both topics of highest interest to voters at the polls Nov. 3.

Cardin said Clinton told the gathering that energy is where the job growth is.

Nearly all 60 Dems attended Tuesday's policy lunch in the Mansfield Room on the 2nd floor of the U.S. Capitol. Clinton was invited by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.