From this Plum Line quote today, it’s clear that the House Progressive Caucus still doesn’t know how to assert itself:
But in a statement, Rep Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, criticized the scheme and complained he hadn’t even been consulted yet:
“I am disappointed that there will be no formal conference process by which various constituencies can impact the discussion. I have not been approached about my concerns with the Senate bill, and I will be raising those at the Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. I and other progressives saw a conference as a means to improve the bill and have a real debate, and now with this behind-the-scenes approach, we’re concerned even more.”
To be sure, many expect House liberals to ultimately support the plan no matter how this process plays out. But House progressives are already infuriated by the multiple concessions they’ve been forced to make, and cutting them out of the process could only bruise feelings more and harden their resolve to hold the line against the eventual compromise.
There’s a simple explanation for why the House Progressives are being ignored – they don’t matter. It’s in that phrase that I emphasized in the PL quote. They don’t matter, because they won’t stand up and say unequivocally that this bill won’t pass without them. It was just two weeks ago that I noted a report that Grijalva had stated his intention to support the bill. At that moment he and his caucus became irrelevant. In the current situation, with the House Republicans seemingly determined to vote against any health care reform bill, no matter how regressive it is, the progressives have more than enough members to block passage of the bill. I don’t know why they won’t do that, although I expect it has something to do with their being vastly outnumbered by the conservatives of both parties in Congress. Whatever the reason, though, it’s frustrating to watch, because they clearly have the power to stop this thing if they want to, or to make the bill worth passing.
They won’t do it, though, because it’s not their way. Their way is to fold and then call us "purists" or "irrational" when we don’t support them when they run for re-election.