Report: House liberals tell Pelosi they won’t play ping pong on ObamaCare
posted at 6:02 pm on January 20, 2010 by Allahpundit
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…
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…
“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.”
Karl semi-predicted this earlier, wondering if the strategy now would be to give up on passing anything and simply force the Senate to vote no on one or more progressive House bills so that the GOP can be blamed in November for killing the dream or whatever. Granted, it’s a horrible strategy insofar as a few Senate Blue Dogs would likely vote no as well if only to cover their own rears, thereby making the GOP’s obstructionism into bipartisan obstructionism, but it may be the least horrible strategy left to them. Also, while a dozen liberal votes doesn’t sound like much, remember that Pelosi (a) has a razor-thin margin to work with, (b) is already bleeding votes from Stupak’s pro-life coalition (Stupak told the Standard today that the Senate bill wouldn’t get 100 votes in the House), and (c) needs virtually every House progressive to vote yes so that she doesn’t have to try to replace them with a vote from an endangered red-district Dem. If just a dozen liberals peel away, she’s pretty much hopeless. Byron York did some back-of-the-envelope math this morning and found Pelosi with only 210 votes — and that was before Grijalva and company waved bye-bye. Subtract them and she’s under 200 while facing a post-Massachusetts political landscape. Game over.
Meanwhile, just as House progressives are telling the Senate it’s their turn to take the lead, the Senate’s telling the House that it’s all up to them. Exit quotation from Philip Klein: “It turns out ‘ping pong’ means that House and Senate Dems both say the ball is in the other’s court.”