President Obama’s has pushed back his trip to Guam, Australia and Indonesia until March 21st in order to resolve disputes with the nation’s controversial health care reform act.
Quite different from what was decided a few days ago when Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released this statement:
“If we have any changes in the schedule, we’ll certainly let you know, but the president believes it is an extremely important trip with — it’s an important region of the world and these are important partners,” he said.
Gibbs added that “if it takes a couple of days extra” to get the bill passed, the president would be fine with missing the March 18 deadline he set for lawmakers “even if he’s already gone.”
The President’s decision to put his international tasks aside to deal with health care legislation was widely suggested by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Fox News reports Pelosi said lawmakers are “one day closer” to passing the legislation, which she called an historic achievement and said she felt “very exhilarated” by the tone of conversation among Democrats. (The health care bill is designed to regulate how insurance companies distribute medical coverage to uninsured customers.)
On the other hand, the trip will consist of a discussion about Afghanistan and nuclear nonproliferation with Australian leaders, plus mark the 70th anniversary of U.S.-Australia relations. The President will also begin plans to launch a comprehensive partnership with Indonesia, and he will meet with military personnel in the U.S. territory of Guam.