August 18th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
9 years ago

Liberal Dems 'stand in strong opposition' to Sebelius statement

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Leaders of the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House sent a letter Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, telling her "we stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is 'not the essential element' of comprehensive reform."

Responding to Sebelius' comments on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, the Democratic lawmakers warned that a health care bill without a public plan won't pass the House.

"Americans deserve reform that is real – not smoke and mirrors. We cannot rely solely on the insurance companies' good faith efforts to provide for our constituents," wrote Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva D-Arizona, Lynn Woolsey D-California and Barbara Lee D-California.

"To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it."

Although the letter is only signed by the co-chairs of the congressional progressive caucus and the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, they also included a letter signed by 60 Democrats before Congress left for recess, which says a final proposal for the president's signature must contain a public option.

Because weekend comments from both Sebelius and the president himself have infuriated liberal Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to release a statement reaffirming her commitment to bringing a bill before the House with a public option, which is scheduled for September.

"There is strong support in the House for a public option," said the House Speaker, "a public option is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage." (link to post on full statement sent earlier)

In fact, several House Democratic leadership aides tell CNN they believe the leaders of the House progressive caucus are right – they likely do have enough votes to block a health care reform bill in the House if it doesn't include a public option.

The problem for the White House is that in the Senate, Democratic leaders have believed for some time that they can't pass a health care bill with a public option – primarily because of concern not just from Republicans, but among conservative Democrats who worry it could hurt private insurance companies.

Senior Democratic sources tell CNN they believe the challenge is bigger in the Senate, and one senior Democratic source with knowledge of White House strategy told CNN many believed the timing was right for the White House to show it is "willing to be reasonable."

To that end, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid released a statement Monday through a spokesman echoing the weekend sentiment from President Obama and his HHS Secretary.

"Senator Reid supports bipartisan health care reform that cuts costs, and provides quality coverage to all Americans, and he recognizes there are different proposals on the table to accomplish this goal. He also knows that 60 votes will be needed to get anything done, which is why he will continue to assess the votes until Congress returns in September," said spokesman Jim Manley.

Filed under: Congress • Democrats • Health care • House
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. Billy J Texas

    No public option means the insurance fat cats have won again. That will make 2-0 in a loss for middle class Americans against the bankers and now insurance. Totally lame.

    August 18, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. Me too


    August 18, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. Lynda

    I also wanted to add, I will be tracking those int he House and Congress who vote no on a public option and I will actively work to get them removed come the next elections. I will go everywhere I can and remind the 35 million people (plus those who have health care now who's payments are strangling them) that they voted NO against making sure your family has a affordable health care.

    As a representative of the people you either believe it's ok that my child suffer because I can't afford health care or you believe it is your duty to make sure basic necessities are met for all the people.

    Draw a line in the sand and decide which side you are going to stand on, you WILL be judged.

    August 18, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. Steve, Columbia SC

    To all of you in the House that support a major public option, the votes in my "house" say this.


    The majority of Americans don't want the public option.

    August 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. Polar Bears Against Palin

    I'm glad the progressive left will stand strong against this gargage. Mr. Obama is becoming the new Jimmy Carter. Soft and wishy-washy.

    August 18, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. Charles Wilton

    Good, so we have the necessary 60 votes to allow the bill to get passed. The President needs to act like his predecessor who succeded in signing into law many bills on his agenda with out ceeding to the opposition, albeit with disasterous results. However, whether you agreed with him or not it cannot be argued that President Bush did not demonstrate the stength of his convictions. President Obama must do the same and force this bill through with the public option included. All this talk about bi-partisanship is meeningless when there are members of Congress who are in bed with the insurrance compancies and the large pharmaceutical industry. There's a conflict of interest right there, and Congress needs to do what is morally right. To whom are they beholden? It is what the majority of Amercans want. There is no reform with out the public option. Period. No other plan would help the 46 Million uninsured or under insured in this country. To think otherwise is naive, and to oppose it speaks volumes of the selfishness and greedy nature of many of our fellow Americans many of whom claim to be Christian. Shameful.

    August 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. Neiki

    EVERYONE should have health care they can afford. After all insurance is the whole point. The private insurance companies are wealthy executives that have bled the public dry by overpricing medication, insurance coverage, medical expenses & tripling the cost in the last 10 years. They don't want the government to compete because it will be IMMEDIATELY found that price gouging is ILLEGAL & they will have A LOT of COMPENSATION & law suits to follow. Oh well, that what EXTORTION leads to...maybe even prison sentences. Imagine that....someone actually having to be accountable for wrong doing!

    August 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. demwit

    hypocrits have no place in politics..

    August 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. pat c

    president obama can NOT back down from public option in this bill. it will show weakness on his part and give the republicans more to bash him on. the president needs to stand up and be "the president" that we voted for an do what he said he would do. he does not need the republicans and as for as the blue dogs..well they are nothing to any of us except their own little world so their voice should be nothing to president obama. the democrats MUST unite and think about ALL americans not just the ones in their own little districts.

    August 18, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. S Callahan

    lol Can you just see the BOARD MEETINGS today.? Lotts of paper towels to wipe the sweat off some of the corp gosh...even imagine the conversation...we are losing control...what are we going to do? I can just imagine! lol

    It is good to see the masses finally rearing their's your God given right to demand your rights on this great earth, especially in this prividleged country!

    August 18, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Some reform is better than none at all. I must agree with the west coast congressmen on this one. A public option is the only way to keep the health insurance companies honest. Majority of Americans don't even know what a co-op is or how it works. Since I work in the healthcare field I can tell you that it would not make insurance companies cut their costs. You have to have a big network(ie: Southern region, Northern region, etc.) to even challenge the insurance companies. A public option is the best way to cut cost while at the same time providing insurance to all.

    August 18, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  12. Jesse, MA.

    I for one am in complete agreement with the progressives in the House. Without a public option, nothing really has changed, except if they include a personal mandate, then it turns into the situation we have here in Massachusetts. You can't be guaranteed that you will have affordable health insurance (much the opposite actually), but you are required to purchase it regardless.
    A public option is an absolute necessity. And to any elected official worried about the health of the insurance companies, try to focus on the health of your constituents, not you campaign donors.

    August 18, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. Operation Crush Rush

    The guy with the rifle would never get it to his shoulder before he became swiss cheese.hahaha

    August 18, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. JDM

    it is about time someone step up and figth back. Ob was for change but i think he is changing back. No more speeches, fight back.

    August 18, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  15. Reformed Republican

    No public option – no bill – no compromise on that issue.

    And to those spineless democraps and obstructionist rethuglicans who don't vote for health care reform that includes a public option, come 2010 we'll vote you out and replace you with politicos that will give the vast majority of Americans what they want and need for a better, more financially secure America...

    August 18, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. Dave

    So let's try and follow this....
    1) President Obama wants Health Care reform to be a Government run Health Care system and leaves it to Congress to pass one
    2) Then after America figures this out and revolts against it, President Obama now says a public option is not vital to reform, changes the name to Health Insurance reform and says a public option doesn't have to be included
    3) Now the public option is back on the table as liberal Dem's revolt against Health Insurance reform if no public option is in the legislation.

    and people wonder why there is so much mis-information out there as our politcal leaders can not even decide on what is in or out of the legislation. Come on liberal Dem's all in unision, It's President Bush's fault

    August 18, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  17. marlene

    If President Obama gives the blue dog dems and the Republicans, who remain the party of no, what they want – I'm off the band wagon.

    August 18, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  18. Pepou

    Public option is a must. If you are in doubt just look at the windfall the insurance companies received yesterday on Wall Street. They are making tons of $$$$ on our backs. Health care for all and a lower cost like in most civilized countries in the world!

    August 18, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. dark side

    "We cannot rely solely on the insurance companies' good faith efforts to provide for our constituents"

    You're right that you can't rely on the insurance companies, but that doesn't justify opening an insurance company of your own. Pass laws that take away insurance companies ability to make those choices. Its as simple as that.

    August 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Scott, Tucson

    Just wait one news cycle and Obama is sure to flip-flop again and again on the issues.

    August 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. Johnny DC

    Arizona and California. Havens for illegal aliens with voting relatives.

    Color me surprised that these lawmakers want a public option, at the cost to taxpayers.

    Stop ruining America to cement your legacy. These irresponsible congressmen have no place in our history.

    August 18, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. Jasaah

    All we need to do is to stand and hold together as Democrates against these crazy and stupid republicans who don't care about the welfare of the middle class in this country. Pres. Obama will stand with his people regardless at the end of the day. I think Obama is trying to teach the republicans politics so he usually confused them with language. He is with the middle class of America, do doubt about it.

    August 18, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  23. jean

    it seems that those that pass these health care laws are more interested in the financial implications for the health insurance companies, than the 50million Americans without health care, i say shame on you, you gold digging thugs

    August 18, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Jay T.

    Absolutely! Obama needs to recognize the people who are lying and slandering and toting firearms like Yosemite Sam and ranting like a two-year-old without his blankie over this bill did not, will not, and will never vote for him. We voted for him, but, will not if he folds. Good luck being elected in 2012.

    August 18, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. craig

    On Chanel 5 News in Phoenix they showed where a Doctor received a $53,000 kickback from the Libby Drug Company. If you can bribe a Doctor you know they can bribe anyone in Congress. If there is that much extra money just for one Doctor to bribe......multiply that by the Doctors in the US and Drug might find the Billions of waste. The smart thing to solve the problem might be to ask Libby Company what they think and do the opposit.
    P.S. Why did CNN miss this story?

    August 18, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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