And here we go again. Now that House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman has enough Blue Dog support to pass the bill, he has to sell it with progressives. And that's not proving to be as easy as he'd hoped.
"[They] have a lot of questions about the legislation," Waxman told reporters, "and I think it's more important that we sit in the Democratic Caucus and let people ask questions, get answers, hear each other out."
What exactly are their concerns? Well, for one, the compromise included a change to the public option that could weaken it on the merits. As originally written, the House bill would have temporarily tied the public option's pay rates to Medicare rates. Now they'll be negotiated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, meaning the rates will vary regionally, and often fall closer to private insurance rates than government rates.
But more generally, the Congressional Progressive Caucus basically believes that their views have been marginalized throughout the Blue Dog process, and are understandably frustrated about being asked to accept compromises with Blue Dogs when they've already compromised a great deal. Last week, several House progressives warned that they couldn't tolerate any further weakening of the public option, and asked to play a greater role in negotiations. Now they feel leaders ignored their concerns.
The mark up was scheduled to resume tonight, but now it looks like it will have to wait until tomorrow, with the goal still to pass the bill by Friday.