WASHINGTON (CNN) – The “Blue Dogs,” a group of moderate to conservative House Democrats who have worked to limit the price tag of health care reform legislation, are taking a hit from a prominent Republican who is suggesting that the group will ultimately prove ineffectual.
“The Blue Dogs, they always bark and they never bite,” Arizona Sen. John McCain said on an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “They almost always – in fact, always, roll over and then play dead.”
McCain’s slam of the Blue Dogs came in the context of being asked whether President Obama has the political power to stymie Republicans in their efforts to shape Democrats’ ambitious plans to overhaul the nation’s health care system.
“There's no doubt that this is a very effective president of the United States,” McCain said of his former rival. “He's an excellent communicator. He has sizeable majorities in both houses of Congress.
“So I would never count anybody out in health care or anything else when you have these sizeable majorities. I think they will renew the push after the August recess. The question is, are they going to be really bipartisan efforts or just pick off a couple of Republicans?”
In the House, the Blue Dog coalition has worked within the Energy and Commerce Committee to bring down the near trillion-dollar price tag for health care reform over the next 10 years while also protecting the interests of rural hospitals in some of their districts. Efforts to appease the Blue Dogs resulted in delays in getting legislation out of that committee. A vote on a bill came late Friday, just before the House broke for a five-week recess.