Long before President Obama met yesterday with a coterie of conservative Senate Democrats to discuss health care reform, he had invited key Congressional liberals to the White House, ahead of his health care speech before Congress, to brief them and hear them out on the public option.
Except that meeting never happened. According to a House Democratic source, the White House never called back.
Today, I asked Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) whether he thought that sequence of events was reflective of the White House’s priorities. He mostly played it down.“I don’t think so. We’ll see,” he said. “We sent a letter saying we need a meeting. I think the black caucus and the tri-caucus have done the same.”
Grijalva is adamant that health care legislation include a public option–he insists that reform can not survive the legislative process otherwise.
“We’re going to continue to ask for that meeting,” Grijalva told me, adding that he hopes it can happen next week. “Sequence and timing, one can say we’re being dealt with last. But, and not to overblow the situation that we’re in, passage in the House will have to go through progressive test.”
“I’m not bothered,” Grijalva added, before warning, “I would hope that the administration is wise enough not to cut a deal without us. It would be a mistake.”