President Obama To Senate Democrats: Let’s Do Lunch
With Congressional recess protests against his health-care agenda ramping up and other pressing business to attend to, President Barack Obama summoned the Senate's Democrats to the White House today for a working lunch, according to Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire. Before the event, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the gathering would be "a chance for the president to discuss his priorities" with the Democratic lawmakers (Pulizzi, 8/4).
The Washington Post's blog, 44, reports that the "meeting comes as Senate Democrats are growing increasingly weary of bipartisan health care reform negotiations being run by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Sen. Charles Schumer on Monday said if the three Republicans and three Democrats on that committee who are negotiating can't reach an agreement by mid-September, Democrats are likely to end their attempts at getting broad GOP support for a bill." In addition, some Democrats have complained that the president is "not doing enough to back a government-run health insurance program. ... Obama has said he backs such a public plan, but has not defined exactly what it should look like" (Fletcher and Bacon, 8/4).
According to the Boston Globe's Political Intelligence, Obama and Senate Democrats discussed weekend protests in which groups opposed to health reform proposals backed by the President and congressional Democrats disrupted constituent town hall meetings. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters that "Obama won several standing ovations and gave a coach-like pep talk that revved up the rank-and-file. 'We're ready to take on the world.'"
Meanwhile, "the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out missives today arguing that groups such as Conservatives for Patients' Rights and FreedomWorks and are creating fake grassroots enthusiasm -- "astroturf" in political circles -- by stacking meetings with outside activists" (Rhee, 8/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.