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Democrats Cite Significant Progress in Health Care Talks

Democrats appearing on Sunday morning news shows said they are optimistic the Senate will pass health care reform legislation soon, with some saying significant progress is imminent.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on “Fox News Sunday— that a key vote on an abortion amendment could happen Monday. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who is part of a group involved in compromise talks on the legislation, said on ABC’s “This Week— that he is “cautiously optimistic— that a package of compromise ideas might be released as early as today.

“There are a number of great ideas on the table,— Feingold said. “We’ve gone from general conversations over the last few days to some very specific conversations— that are not limited to the debate over the public option.

Feingold added, “the talks are exciting. They’re getting closer, and I am cautiously optimistic we’re going to be able to pull everybody together— to get 60 votes.

President Barack Obama’s scheduled Sunday afternoon visit to the Senate should boost the bill’s progress, Durbin said. “I’m glad the president is coming. It’s always good to see him; he’s a former colleague to many of us,— Durbin said.

But Republicans continued to express opposition to the legislation. On “Fox News Sunday,— Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the GOP remains concerned that the bill would raise taxes on small businesses and limit Americans’ access to Medicare.

“Right now, Republicans are united against the approach that’s being taken by Sen. Reid and by the president,— echoed Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union.—

On “Meet the Press,— Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he doesn’t know whether a reform package that includes a public option would pass, although he said public opinion is “swinging against it— and “we’re fighting the good fight.—

“This probably one of the most interesting domestic discussions I’ve ever been in in my career in the United States Senate,— McCain said. “And frankly, it’s been vigorous, and it’s been enjoyable.—

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on “State of the Union— that health reform must be completed this session.

“This is the opportunity for health care reform. Some people say, ‘Well, we should do it next year, there are too many things. You know, there’s an element of truth to that,— she said, adding that despite the difficulties, now is the time to act. “This is it… If we miss this opportunity to pass this bill, it’s lost.—

Feinstein said that the health bill outlines a gradual implementation schedule, and if there are problems that need to be fixed in the years ahead, there will be time to do that before the legislation is fully effective.

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