From NBC's Ali Weinberg
The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the House today offered vastly different takes on Congress' past year, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised a slew of successes, while Minority Leader John Boehner criticized the Dem legislation as harmful to the American people.
Pelosi framed health care reform as the latest in a yearlong series of legislative accomplishments, and she expressed optimism that the Senate bill -- once passed -- could be reconciled with the House bill with relative ease. Pelosi also outlined a jobs-centric agenda for the rest of the year, suggesting that the House shift its focus to the nation's top concern while waiting for health care to reach a House-Senate conference committee.
At her weekly press conference, Pelosi told reporters that she had "great pride because we had a plan, we had an agenda that we set out to do, and we accomplished it" -- in passing bills for President Obama's three major pillars of reform: health care, energy ,and education.
On health care, she said that the House and Senate bills will be "probably 75% compatible," with "just a few issues to deal with." While she reiterated the House's support for a public health insurance option - a provision absent from the Senate's bill - she noticeably refrained from insisting on it. "We in the House believe the public option is the best way to keep insurance companies honest and also to increase competition," Pelosi said, adding, "if you have a better way, put it on the table."
Looking ahead, Pelosi indicated that the House would add legislation to a military spending bill that would increase the debt ceiling beyond its current limit of $12.1 trillion, potentially allowing room for more jobs-creation funding.
Shortly after Pelosi finished her press conference, Boehner held his own, saying this about the Democrats: "The whole year's been basically the same kind of a schedule. We name post offices on Monday and Tuesday. We raise taxes on Wednesday. We spend trillions of dollars on Thursdays. And on Fridays, we wrap the business community, the employers, we wrap them up in more regulations."
Before exiting his press conference, Boehner walked to a dolly, loaded up with what appeared to be all 2,500 pages of the health care reform bill. "I'm going to take this with me," he said, to the laughter of the press corps.