Moderates Wooed In House As They Cross Party Lines To Shape Health Legislation
As attempts to gain support for health reform across party lines and from stoic interest groups like the American Medical Association continue, House leaders are seeking to rally centrist members of their own caucus, CQ Politics reports. "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose liberal committee leaders will write health care legislation is attempting to engage moderate Democrats whose votes she will need on the floor."
Pelosi tapped Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., a former Republican, as her health care communications adviser, and has drawn Reps. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., a member of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dogs, and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, into her health care inner circle. Pelosi's past congressional allies have included primarily liberals like Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., whose committees will write the reform bill (Ota, 6/17).
Meanwhile, "members of the centrist GOP 'Tuesday Group,' the New Democrat Coalition and the 52-member Blue Dog Coalition have been discussing both the policies and politics of moving their middle-of-the-road ideas in a body of Congress usually dominated by liberal or conservative ideology," the Hill reports. All are "wary" of leading proposals circulating their respective caucuses. Blue Dogs are likely to oppose a government-run insurance option favored by the liberals leadership. The GOP centrists released their own proposal in advance of the expected unveiling of their higher-ups' plan (Hooper, 6/16).
In the Senate, key committee leaders are "conceding the unlikelihood of attracting significant Republican support for the legislation," Roll Call reports. "As important as bipartisanship is - and it's very important - it's not as critical as helping the millions of Americans who have no health insurance," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters. Members of the two committees shaping the reform legislation echoed that point, Roll Call reports, and appeared uncertain of how much GOP support they could gain (Drucker 6/17).