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Emanuel: Progress Being Made in Negotiations

Congressional Democratic leaders and senior administration officials Thursday evening resumed their negotiations on a reconciliation package to the Senate-passed health care reform bill, with at least one participant expressing optimism that an agreement was in sight.

“It was a good meeting,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said. “We made a lot of progress, we made a lot of decisions and think that we’re getting toward the end here.”

House and Senate Democrats exiting the negotiation declined to address specific questions regarding decisions made or agreements reached. One key sticking point remains whether to include a student loan overhaul in the reconciliation package. House Democratic leaders and the administration favor this approach; the Senate is less enthusiastic.

Democrats are negotiating the contents of the reconciliation package, which is to include adjustments to the underlying $875 billion health care reform bill approved by the Senate on Christmas Eve. Getting a final health care reform bill to President Barack Obama’s desk calls for the House to pass both the Senate bill and companion reconciliation legislation.

The Senate would then take up the reconciliation package. However, it appears Obama must sign the Senate’s health care bill into law before the chamber can act on the reconciliation bill.

The Senate has adjourned until Monday. It is unclear if health care negotiations will resume on Friday or hold until next week.

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