How Many Republicans Does it Take to Make a Health Care Bill?

Just one day after President Obama told a Joint Session of Congress that the solution to the health care crisis will be a bipartisan one, a plethora of Democrats visited the White House to talk shop and nary a Republican was in sight.

A group of centrist Democrats, 17 of them, piled into a van and headed down Pennsylvania Avenue for a late afternoon face-to-face meeting with Mr. Obama at the White House.

Republicans were left wondering if the olive branch the President had offered them was already beginning to splinter. During his remarks Wednesday night, President Obama proclaimed, "I will continue to seek common ground [with Republicans on health care] in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open."

"It's tough to say what door he's talking about, since the President has not met with House Republicans since April, and when Republican leaders asked for such a meeting in a May 14 letter, the President ignored the request," House Republican Leader John Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, griped.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried to soften the political blow, "I presume we will have Republicans and Democrats down here to talk about this proposal. The president didn't go to Capitol Hill just to give lip service to both sides of the aisle...I don't think that you can day after the speech. The president is focused on hearing all of those ideas."

But will those ideas ever find their way into the final legislation? Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), who was one of the lawmakers in the meeting Thursday, may have revealed more than he intended to when he described the meeting this way, "[There was] optimism that we can find a bipartisan path forward, but also a sentiment that at some point it's time to act and if Republicans in the Senate are not interested in finding a way forward and finding solutions, we're [going to] work with Democrats to come up with a comprehensive package."

When pressed by a reporter about whether or not this represented the President's stance, Udall recoiled, "The president didn't rule out any approach. He underlined that he's continuing to reach out to Senators...I was expressing as much my sentiments and the sentiments of the Senators there as I was describing those [of] the president."