House Dems Seek Health Bill Support From Liberals, Women, And Even Republicans
House Democrats are enjoying a feeling of momentum on health care, despite divisions within their own party, and rigid partisan battle lines. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told The Hill, "I'm encouraged that we're as far along as we have come and I think we're going to make it." Another senior lawmaker said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "has held dozens of meetings to assuage the concerns of liberal and centrist Democratic colleagues" (Bolton and Young, 10/8).
But, Pelosi's comments on some issues, including how much the bill should cost and the public option, have not always been conciliatory. Reacting to the Senate Finance Committee's bill, which is estimated to cost less than $900 billion, a goal set by President Obama, Pelosi told a closed-door meeting of lawmakers, "The savings come off the backs of the middle class," The Hill reports in another story. "Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have consistently pushed the bill to the left in order to improve the bargaining position it will have in conference with the more centrist Senate when it hammers out a final version," and Pelosi might be willing to side with them (Soraghan and Allen, 10/8).
Pelosi is also pushing to get women voters on board for health care reform, the Associated Press/Boston Globe reports. "A group of female House Democrats led by [Pelosi] , were at it again Tuesday at a rally near the steps of the Capitol where Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., led a call-and-response with female attendees of, 'Do women need real health reform? Do we want it? Are we willing to fight for it?'" (Davis, 10/9).
Meanwhile, Pelosi's No. 2, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., met with his Republican counterpart, Republican Whip Eric Cantor, of Virginia, to consider common ground, Roll Call reports. Cantor said the two parties could probably agree on making health care more affordable, barring exclusion by insurers because of pre-existing conditions, and malpractice reform. "I think this does provide a way for us to move forward," Cantor said. Hoyer did not say when he would continue the discussion (Kucinich, 10/8).
Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who said last week that Republicans want the sick to "die quickly," was remained unrepentent. He refused Thursday to apologize for the comment on the House floor: "I'm telling you this, I will not apologize, I will not apologize, I will not apologize for a simple reason: America doesn't care about your feelings," according to a second Roll Call report. He said Americans "understand that if Barack Obama were somehow able to cure hunger in the world, the Republicans would blame him for overpopulation" (Dennis, 10/8).