Democratic leaders voice confidence Obama will have a health care law to sign this year

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic congressional leaders predicted passage of health care legislation within a few months despite undimmed Republican opposition, claiming momentum Thursday from President Barack Obama's speech and renewed commitment from lawmakers fresh from a month of meetings with constituents.

Increasingly, events in the Senate Finance Committee appeared pivotal, precursor to likely votes in both the House and the Senate by early October. "I'm confident the president will sign a bill this year," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

While effusively praising Obama's speech from the night before, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada signaled separately the president may not prevail in his call for legislation that allows the federal government to sell insurance in competition with private industry.

Reid said that while he favors a strong "public option," he could be satisfied with establishment of nonprofit cooperatives, along the lines expected to be included in the bill taking shape in the Finance Committee.

Pelosi, who has long favored a measure that allows the government to sell insurance, passed up a chance to say it was a nonnegotiable demand.

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