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House Liberals Won't Support Senate Bill: 'That's Their Damn Problem'

Greg Sargent reports that House liberals are refusing to support the Senate healthcare reform bill, which sets a whole new dynamic in play. Good for

Greg Sargent reports that House liberals are refusing to support the Senate healthcare reform bill, which sets a whole new dynamic in play. Good for them! I, for one, am tired of the House members being treated as minor players in such important legislation:

In a private meeting in the Capitol just now, a dozen or more House liberals bluntly told Nancy Pelosi that there was no chance that they would vote to pass the Senate bill in its current form — making it all but certain that House Dems won’t opt for this approach, a top House liberal tells me.

“We cannot support the Senate bill — period,” is the message that liberals delivered to the Speaker, Dem Rep Raul Grijalva told me in an interview just now.

Some had hoped Pelosi would push liberals to get in line behind this approach, in hopes of expediting reform, but that didn’t appear to happen in this meeting. Pelosi mostly listened, Grijalva said, adding: “We didn’t get any declarative statement from her.”

The meeting, which was polite but blunt in tone, underscores the degree to which Dems are scrambling to figure out a way forward on health care in the wake of last night’s loss. The unwillingness of liberals, and some in labor, to support passing the Senate bill means House Dem leaders need to find another way forward — fast — and leadership aides are scouring procedural rules as we speak.

Tellingly, House liberals also urged Pelosi to consider passing individual pieces of reform through the House as individual bills, and sending them to the Senate to challenge the upper chamber to reject them, Grijalva tells me. Liberals said this approach would be preferable to passing the Senate bill.

For instance, Grijalva said, why not send the Senate individual bills that would, among other things, nix the “Cadillac” tax or close the donut hole, pressuring the Senate to deal with each provision separately?

“If the Senate chooses not to close the donut hole, that’s their damn problem,” Grijalva said. “They’ve had it too easy. One vote controls everything. Collectively, we’re tired of that.”

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