WASHINGTON - An influential progressive in the House of Representatives says that the public option compromise taking shape in the Senate might not survive the lower chamber--particularly if the Senate tries to jam its health care bill through the House.
In an interview this afternoon, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said he met with the Congressional Progressive Caucus' health care task force yesterday and they all agreed. "There is consensus within the progressive caucus," Grijalva said. "Personally I'm in agreement with them. I don't think very much of it."
"We're questioning whether you can define [what's coming out of the Senate] as a robust PO, and we don't think you can," he told me.
"There's rumors that we will skip conference--that we won't do conference--and bring their bill directly to the floor, and we are very, very opposed to that," Grijalva said.
At her press conference this morning, I asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi how much of a chance there is that the Senate will "ping pong" its bill over to the House. Her response was emphatic, but not definitive. "Not much," she answered. "We would like to see a full conference." But she didn't rule it out entirely.
Grijalva says if he and other House progressives are faced with a straight vote on the Senate bill, they'll likely defect. "It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to vote yes."
That said, Grijalva says he's going to wait and see the explicit details of the compromise, and read what the CBO has to say about it, before taking any concrete steps, including whipping votes.
After all, maybe the CBO will come back with a surprising report. "That consideration's always there--a member said 'if you don't want to call it a public option in the Senate, [but if it does what the public option does] we'd consider that,'" Grijalva said. "But are we ready to count heads on whether you're a no vote or a yes vote...at this point it would probably be premature."