The House Blue Dog Coalition continues to wield outsize political power, thanks to a canny willingness to leverage its votes on key issues, while the Congressional Progressive Caucus must fight to be heard.
Case in point: the Blue Dogs are meeting directly with President Obama this afternoon on the stimulus bill. The Progressives have yet to hear back about their request for a meeting, which was issued almost a month ago.
But that doesn’t mean the Progressives are staying silent as the Senate proposes stimulus cuts to education and health insurance for the unemployment. Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chairs of the group, have fired off a letter to the House Speaker protesting the Senate’s cuts. Here’s an excerpt:
We are especially concerned that the Senate package does not invest in jobs – be they focused on “green” technology, veterans, or sustaining the local prevailing wage. … As the House and Senate bills move towards conference, we urge you to stand strong and advocate for the above-mentioned House-passed funding, because a bill modeled on the Senate version could be very difficult for many progressives to support.
The final stimulus vote will be the true test of whether progressives are willing to cause trouble for the White House and their leaders by pushing for a stimulus they can support. Goodness knows the Blue Dogs aren’t shy about speaking their minds — and extracting concessions for it.
Late Update: Our own Andrew Golis was able to ask Grijalva today whether the progressives would back up their letter with a concrete vow to oppose any stimulus that too closely resembled the Senate version.
His response was understandable, but likely to take the teeth out of the effort: “I don’t know. That gauntlet was necessary to throw down. Will there be the will to sink the package? I don’t know.”