It's coming down to the "nitty-gritty" on health care reform. The House of Representatives passed a fairly decent bill that included a public option for insurance. The Senate bill was a complete mess that tossed out the public option and rewarded private insurance companies with a mandatory buy provision. Now the two arms of Congress must reconcile their bills.
Some think the bad Senate bill can be fixed by the House/Senate conference committee. I seriously doubt it can be fixed there. I fully expect President Obama to pressure House members to accept the Senate bill and dump the public option, and I don't believe the Senators will allow the public option to be included in any final bill (since they have their marching orders from Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson).
That means the only hope to get real reform in the coming year is for the House of Representatives to kill the final bill, and start over using the reconciliation process. This would allow the public option to be approved, since only 51 votes would be needed when the bill reaches the Senate (taking Lieberman, Nelson, Landrieu and Lincoln out of the equation).
Is it possible to kill the bill in the House and start over? The first bill passed the House with only 220 votes (218 are required to pass a bill). All 178 Republicans and 37 blue dogs voted against the bill. It is expected that some of those 37 blue dogs would probably vote for the Senate version without a public option. That means it is up to House progressives to kill this bill and start over.
Last August, 57 House members signed a letter saying a bill without a public option would be "unacceptable" to them. Another 7 members did not sign the letter, but said they would not vote for a bill without a public option. That makes 64 House members opposed to a bill with no public option.
Since we know that the 178 Republicans are going to vote no on any health care bill, that means they would only have to be joined by 40 Democrats to kill the bill. The question now is will these 64 House progressives stand firm and keep their word (or at least 40 of them)?
There will be extraordinary pressure on the reps to change their minds and throw the public option under the bus, and most of that pressure will come from the White House and the Democratic Party establishment (both of whom believe they can sell the bad Senate bill as the "real reform" that it so obviously is not). So the question is how many of the 64 have a backbone and how many will turn out to be jellyfish (like the Senate "progressives").
Here are the 64 House members (with their state and district). Write or call them and let them know that a bill without a public option is not real reform, but just a giant payday for private insurance companies.
Corrine Brown (FL-03), Albio Sires (NJ-13), Alcee Hastings (FL-23), Andre Carson (IN-07), Barbara Lee (CA-09), Barney Frank (MA-14), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Bill Delahunt (MA-10), Bill Pascrell (NJ-08), Bob Filner (CA-51), Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-13), Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Chaka Fattah (PA-02), Chellie Pingree (MN-01), Dennis Kucinich (OH-10), Diane Watson (CA-33),
Donald Payne (NJ-10), Donna Edwards (MD-04), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Ed Towns (NY-10), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Elijah Cummings (MD-07), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Eric Massa (NY-29), Pete Stark (CA-13), Grace Napolitano (CA-38), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Jackie Spier (CA-12), Jerry Nadler (NY-08), Jesse Jackson Jr. (IL-02), Jim McDermott (WA-07),
Jim McGovern (MA-03), John Conyers (MI-14), John Olver (MA-01), John Tierney (MA-06), John Yarmuth (KY-03), Jose Serrano (NY-16), Judy Chu (CA-32), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Laura Richardson (CA-37), Linda Sanchez (CA-39), Lloyd Doggett (TX-25), Lucille Roybal-Alard (CA-34), Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Lynn Woolsey (CA-06), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09),
Maurice Hinchey (NY-22), Maxine Waters (CA-35), Mazie Hirono (HI-02), Mel Watts (NC-12), Michael Honda (CA-15), Mike Capuano (MA-08), Nadia Velezquez (NY-12), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Phil Hare (IL-17), Raul Grijalva (AZ-07), Robert Wexler (FL-19), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Sam Farr (CA-17), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), William Lacy Clay (MO-01), Yvette Clark (NY-11).