The fierce national debate over health care is entering a new phase, with advocates on all sides focused on a handful of legislative bottlenecks that will determine the ultimate overhaul of the $2.5 trillion medical care system.
President Barack Obama's prime-time address to Congress on Wednesday reassured some nervous Democratic lawmakers, and he aligned himself more closely with certain proposals. While Obama's words seemed to halt and possibly reverse the momentum that conservative groups had gained in August, they did not resolve all the concerns of centrist Democrats who will play pivotal roles, especially in the Senate.
Democratic leaders are planning a House vote early next week to admonish Republican Rep. Joe Wilson if he does not apologize on the House floor for yelling "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's health care address to Congress.
National attention from the heckling episode has money pouring into Wilson's campaign treasury and that of his 2010 Democratic challenger. Wilson had raised more than $700,000 since the incident as of Friday, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee. His opponent, Rob Miller, had received more than $1 million from 25,000 donors nationwide, said his campaign manager, Lindsay Zoeller.
Democrats and Republicans alike are denouncing Rep. Joe Wilson for shouting "You lie" at President Barack Obama during his speech to Congress, an extraordinary breach of decorum for which the South Carolina Republican swiftly apologized.
"There'll be time enough to consider whether or not we ought to make it clear that that action is unacceptable in the House of Representatives," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said late Wednesday on WTOP radio when asked about possible punishment for Wilson. "I've talked to Republican members who share that view."
The top Democrat in the House of Representatives insisted Tuesday that a government-run insurance option was "essential" to passing President Barack Obama's health reform plan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments followed growing suggestions that the so-called "public option" could be jettisoned or delayed in a final compromise intended to secure Obama's top legislative priority.
"I believe that a public option will be essential to our passing a bill in the House of Representatives," Pelosi said after meeting Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House.
Democrats remain sharply divided over what to do about the nation's health care system and return to Congress this week without any clear plan or consensus on reform.
After a month of rowdy town meetings, the picture for health care reform remains as muddled as ever on Capitol Hill and few believe President Barack Obama's attempt to rally support with a speech to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night will improve the situation.
"You're looking at one screwed-up mess," a long time Democratic operative told Capitol Hill Blue over the weekend. "Democrats lack focus on the issue."
Yes, we got trouble right here in Potomac River City.
That starts with "T" and that rhymes with "D" and that stands for "Democrats."
As President Barack Obama's once seemingly-unassailable popularity wanes and public anger grows over the failing economy and issues like health care "reform," the party of the jackass sees trouble with voters on the horizon.
Democrats aren't paranoid. Voters are out to get them. The same voters who threw the bums out in 2006 and 2008 now consider Obamacons the bums and they want change.
Libertarian Texas Congressman Ron Paul is finding rare support for his push to shine the spotlight on the Federal Reserve.
"He's finally found the right moment," Sarah Binder of the liberal Brookings Institution told Reuters.
"His bill happens to be in the right place at the right time," adds Paul spokesman Rachel Mills.
The increasingly violent and unpopular war in Afghanistan, which many now compare to U.S. mistakes in Vietnam, is drawing growing opposition in Congress.
The political divide could derail Obama administration plans to send more troops into the troubled conflict.
Senate Democrats Friday said any attempt by Obama to send more troops into harm's war in Afghanistan will hit resistance from his own party. The word to the White House came as U.S. troops blew up tanker trucks hijacked by the Taliban, leaving 70 dead, including Afghan civilians.
For backers of health care overhaul, it's TGIS: Thank goodness it's September.
August was brutal, as lawmakers faced raucous crowds denouncing Democratic plans and polls showed support for President Barack Obama and various proposals dropping fast. Now, with Congress to reconvene next Tuesday, proponents hope to change the dynamic by holding quiet, closed-door sessions with nervous Democratic lawmakers and arguing that far-reaching health care changes can be good politics as well as good policy.
They also hope GOP-led opposition has peaked. But that's far from clear, and Republicans are eager to hand Obama his first major defeat.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, laid to rest alongside his slain brothers John and Robert, was remembered as a "veritable force of nature" who worked tirelessly in the Senate for nearly five decades on the causes he cared about deeply.
Crowds lined the streets of two cities on a day that marked the end of an American political era — outside Kennedy's funeral in rainy Boston where he was eulogized by President Barack Obama, and later in humid, late-summer Washington.