Democrats hope to use the wind at their backs following the historic vote on health care to push other issues on their agenda to victory and they're telling Republicans now is the time to get on board.
Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd told reporters at the White House today, "Maybe I'm a minority of one on this view: I would hope that after yesterday, those Republicans who, I think, reluctantly went along with 'just say no. We're against everything' are finally gonna step up and say, 'look, that's over with. We didn't get elected to Congress or the United States Senate to just sit around and say no to everything.'"
For Dodd, the Senate Banking Committee Chair, and Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), the next battle is financial reform; an issue Frank says is now the number one concern for Americans. Democrats, they say, will be at the forefront of that challenge.
After meeting with the President on the topic today, Frank told reporters, playing off of an infamous criticism of President Obama's health care push, "There are going to be death panels enacted by the Congress this year, but they're death panels for large financial institutions that can't make it."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed that same optimism at his briefing today, saying, "I think the President expects that we will finish financial reform in the next couple of months."
Just yesterday, Dodd's Committee approved a reform bill, pleasing Mr. Obama, who steeled his resolve on the issue, "I will continue to fight to strengthen the bill and against attempts to undermine the independence of [a new consumer] agency," he said in a statement released Tuesday.
"I will also oppose efforts to add loopholes that could harm consumers or investors, or that allow institutions to avoid oversight that is critical for financial stability," he said.
Dodd and Frank don't see bipartisanship as an obstacle that cannot not be overcome on financial reform. "I've had some very positive initial conversations with Richard Shelby, the Ranking Republican of the Banking Committee, over the last 24-48 hours. [Senator] Bob Corker has been willing to work on these matters and others," Dodd said.
He continued, challenging Republicans, "I know there are Republicans I serve with in the Senate who, frankly, don't wanna just say 'no policy', when it comes to major legislative initiatives. And they would like to be part of this debate and offer constructive ideas to this proposal... I think health care, frankly, the outcome there, I think has strengthened our hand in reaching out to people who'd like to be part of the solution."