ABC News' Sunlen Miller Reports: After emerging from a nearly hour meeting with the President, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that there is now 90% agreement on the way forward for health care reform.
“Even before the August recess, 80 percent of health care is already done,” Reid said, “In our conversations today, we think we're up to 90 percent of things there are agreed upon. We have 10 percent that we need to work on, and we can do that.”
Pelosi and Reid sat down with the President and the Vice President for Oval Office this afternoon and emerged in front of reporters upbeat.
“The president and vice president were very positive,” Reid said, “And it's in keeping with the conversations I've had with my members the past week; that is, we're reenergized, we're ready to do health care reform.”
Pelosi said it is an exciting time and there is “plenty to work from” for the Finance Committee to act.
Reid said he, like the White House, has not seen a copy of Senator Baucus’s draft bill yet.
The Majority Leader said that they are working on the 10% areas of disagreement and said they are still approaching this in the form of bipartisanship but did not rule out reconciliation.
“We still, after all these months, have a place at the table for the Republicans, and we're going to do everything we can to work with them. We want a bipartisan bill. We do not want to do reconciliation unless we have no alternative.”
Reid said that his is “personally” in favor of the public option. Yet he did not speak for the majority of the Senate and chose rather to say that this is a view shared by the majority of the House.
“The majority -- in my mind, there's no question that the majority of -- I can't speak for the House caucus, but if I were betting I think the majority of them also believe in a public option. And we're going to do our very best to have a public option or something like a public option before we finish this work.”
Pelosi confirmed again that the public option is essential for House passage.
“if somebody has a better idea of how to do that, put it on the table,” Pelosi said, “For the moment, however, as far as our House members are concerned, the overwhelming majority of them support a public option.”
Pelosi ducked the question if the trigger option would be an acceptable alternative.
“This, as I say, is the legislative process. And right now, we will have a public option in our bill,” Pelosi said, but later added a prognosis that the trigger option would be worse for insurance companies, “They'd be better getting a public option now than one that is triggered because if you have a triggered public option, it's because the insurance industry has demonstrated that they're not cooperating, they're not doing the right thing, and I think they'll have a tougher public option to deal with.”
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs today said that the President wanted to meet with Pelosi and Reid to get a “legislative lay of the land,” and talk to them about “where members are.”
Reid said that the President did not give much of a preview of his speech before a joint session of Congress, but is confident the message will get through to the American people.
“I have every belief that when he finishes the speech tomorrow, the American people will be able to put aside some of the ridiculous falsehoods that have been perpetrated these past few weeks and focus on what we're going to do that's positive for this country.”