The co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus doesn't like once again being shut out of healthcare reform negotiations. Greg Sargent:
A top House progressive, in a statement sent my way, ripped the Dem leadership’s emerging plan to skip the traditional process to merge the House and Senate bills, claiming it will make it even tougher to improve the bill and slamming it for stifling real debate.
The Dem leadership in the House and Senate, according to multiple reports, are mulling this scheme to pass health care, as a way of leapfrogging GOP intentions to block reform with parlimentary tricks. Dem leaders may informally negotiate a compromise between the Senate and House bills, rather than merge them with a formal series of votes subject to GOP obstructionist tactics.
But in a statement, Rep Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, criticized the scheme and complained he hadn’t even been consulted yet:
“I am disappointed that there will be no formal conference process by which various constituencies can impact the discussion. I have not been approached about my concerns with the Senate bill, and I will be raising those at the Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. I and other progressives saw a conference as a means to improve the bill and have a real debate, and now with this behind-the-scenes approach, we’re concerned even more.”
With Ben Nelson in charge, Grijalva's and the rest of the Democrats--the majority of whom in the House and Senate wanted a much more progressive bill--are going to be left in the dust again. That is, unless they decide that Nelson's coathanger amendment, the lack of a public option, the "Chevy" excise tax, and the cost burden to the middle class in the Senate bill all combine in one old big poison pill that they can't swallow.