House Doesn’t Trust White House or Senate On Health Care

Congressional Quarterly/Newscom
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House Democrats are dramatically divided on how to get health care passed in part because they don’t trust the White House or Senate to live up to their promises.

TPMDC has been speaking with House Democratic leadership aides, administration officials and those close to the health care negotiations to get a sense of where the talks are going, if anywhere.

We’ve sketched out the plans being floated by members, but a big hangup is that more than half of House Democrats don’t want to pass the Senate version of the bill with the promise that the bigger differences they’ve already been hammering out would be fixed with a second bill.

The bottom line is that many members feel betrayed by the White House and Senate and just don’t trust that a fix would pass. If their fears pan out, members would be left with a more conservative bill than they passed last fall, and none of the compromises they negotiated with union leaders on how to pay for health care.Members feel President Obama showed deference to his old colleagues in the Senate from the beginning of the health care discussions and the House was rolled each step in the way.

“Everyone in the house feels like the White House bent over backwards to engage the Senate and they didn’t get anything for it anyway,” one leadership aide told TPMDC.

Rank-and-file members are irritated because they told the White House they would get to 218 votes to pass their bill, and they delivered.

“They are frustrated the White House fell for all the talk in the Senate that they thought they could make [their bill] bipartisan,” the aide said. “Members don’t trust the Senate, they definitely don’t trust the White House to come back and fix any of this.”

Others said that more than half of rank-and-file members would rather sacrifice some of the elements of the bill they like by seeking another Senate Republican’s support to pass a compromise bill, rather than swallow the Senate bill as is.

Members on the House side also feel they would be the ones to suffer at the ballot box in November if voters see health care stall.

The conversations that have taken place about how to move forward frequently include the word “could” as Democrats consider their options but are far from reaching any conclusions.

House aides say repeatedly they are looking to the White House for guidance, but the administration has aimed for a hands-off (for now) approach to let the “dust settle” following the Massachusetts election.

Check out TPMDC’s running tally of where members stand here.

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