Washington (CNN) — President Obama will head to Capitol Hill on Sunday to meet with Senate Democrats as the health debate rages, officials say.
The meeting is set for 2 p.m. ET, a White House official and a senior Democratic source told CNN.
Senate Republicans failed Saturday to eliminate $42.1 billion in cuts to Medicare home health care service in the health care bill.
The 53-41 vote shot down a motion offered by Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Nebraska, that would have sent Majority Leader Harry Reid’s sweeping $848 billion reform plan back to the committee with instructions to remove all home health care cuts.
Johanns objected to the cuts, saying the services “help some of the most vulnerable Americans.”
Democrats say the bill instills needed reforms to ensure the long-term solvency of the government-run Medicare health program for seniors.
n response, Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, offered an amendment that prohibits reducing “guaranteed” home health benefits.
The Senate passed the amendment 96-0, on the sixth day of Senate debate on Reid’s 2,074-page bill.
But while the debate continued on the Senate floor, other work was going on behind closed doors, as a group of nearly a dozen liberal and moderate Democrats met to try to hash out a compromise on one of the most contentious issues in the bill — the public option.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also participated in the talks.
“There are all kind of discussions on the table about public option and other things,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
“It’s pretty clear where the great majority of Congress is and where the great majority of the country is on this bill. And I just want to see the president speaking out and talking to those members that are a little less enthusiastic to support it,” he said.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, said: “We’re talking about different things. … I don’t even know if I would call it a compromise; I would call it a proposal that involves a lot of different moving parts.”
Two senators, whose votes are key to passing a bill, said they have yet to see a compromise they can support on the the public option.
“There are a lot of discussions going on and I’m going to work hard to see if there isn’t somewhere to be in terms of a compromise, but I haven’t seen it yet,” Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, said Friday.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, was less open to a compromise on Friday, saying he won’t be satisfied until the public option is stripped from the health care bill.
“I think the better political compromise is to get the public option out of there and do the rest that’s good,” Lieberman said. Like Lincoln, he supports much of the Democrats’ enormous health care bill.
Lincoln and Lieberman, along with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, oppose a public option, but they are four votes Democratic leaders are likely to need to get the 60 votes required to pass a health care bill.
They could afford to lose one of those votes if they succeed in luring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who also has been open to compromise.
Landrieu said meetings such as Saturday’s were “extremely helpful.”
“When you scale everything back, there is room for common ground here,” she said.
The House of Representatives narrowly passed a more than $1 trillion health care bill earlier this year.
If the Senate also manages to pass a bill, a congressional conference committee will then need to merge the House and Senate proposals into a consensus version requiring final approval from each chamber before moving to Obama’s desk to be signed into law.