Deal With Blue Dog Democrats on Reform Eludes House Leaders
No agreement has been reached with members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition over their concerns about the House reform bill (HR 3200), CongressDaily reports.
On Tuesday, Coalition members on the Energy and Commerce Committee met with White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), chair of the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force, said lawmakers spent time discussing a proposal made by Waxman to the coalition on Monday that aims to address areas of concern. Specifics of the proposal remain unknown at this point.
Waxman said, "I'm not even going to go into it because it's compromises that I wouldn't even consider doing unless we are going to get a bill out of committee" (Hunt/House, CongressDaily, 7/29).
Blue Dog Baron Hill (D-Ind.) described Waxman's offer as a hybrid between the current reform bill and the demands of the Blue Dogs. He said that Waxman has "kind of watered [the demands] down," adding, "And we've got to make a determination whether or not we're going to accept that watered-down proposal or make a counterproposal" (Allen, The Hill, 7/28).
Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), a Blue Dog, said that the bottom line for the coalition "has not been met as of this time" (CongressDaily, 7/29).
Progressives Criticize Blue Dogs, Baucus
On Tuesday, Progressive House Democrats told Pelosi that Blue Dogs and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) are sabotaging health reform.
The Democrats discussed strategies for moving the bill forward if Waxman is unable to reach a deal with the Blue Dogs this week. They also voiced concerns about Baucus' attempt to eliminate a public plan option from the bill and questioned whether Baucus was being swayed by insurance companies.
Pelosi reiterated her support for a public plan.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said most Democrats feel secure that Pelosi will protect the public plan option in the House bill (Bendery, Roll Call, 7/28).
Blue Dogs Meet With GOP
On Tuesday, several members of the Blue Dog Coalition met with House Republicans to discuss health reform.
Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), a Blue Dog co-chair, said he and other coalition members are hopeful that there will be more talks between the parties about the bill. He said the Blue Dogs want more time to study the bill and negotiate changes (CQ Today, 7/28).
House Republicans believe that the ongoing delay by the Blue Dogs might soon force Democratic lawmakers to bargain with GOP opponents of the legislation (Ota, CQ Today, 7/28).
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "There are a number of our members who have been in informal conversations with the Blue Dogs," adding, "We've been hoping for weeks that they'd become a bit more formal. I think the American people want us to work together to solve this health care crisis, and I've encouraged our members to reach out to their friends across the aisle and see if we can't put a bipartisan solution together" (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 7/28).
On Tuesday, Republican aides said House Democratic leaders had informed Boehner that the chamber would not vote on the bill before Friday and that members would be leaving on time for the scheduled August recess (CongressDaily, 7/29).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, "I have not told them that they were going home on Friday." He added, "I've indicated that we're not going to do the bill on Friday because we don't have time" to give notice (Armstrong/Wayne, CQ Politics, 7/28).Pelosi said that Democratic House leaders have not yet decided when to leave and that staying in session next week is still "an option" (Budoff Brown/O'Connor, Politico, 7/28). Hill said, "We are going to pass a health care bill, whether it's now or in the fall remains to be seen" (AP/Boston Globe, 7/29). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.