Obama Summons Waffling Members to White House to Talk Health Care

Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:37am

A day after giving his final major push to Congress to get the job done on health care, President Barack Obama is already ramping up his campaigning on the Hill by summoning to the White House a motley group of Democrats who are wavering on his proposal.

Obama reached out to different factions of House Democrats on Wednesday night and asked them to meet with him this afternoon in two separate meetings. Several lawmakers who were invited said Obama didn’t tell them what the meetings were about, but that it was fairly obvious based on the guest list.

“It’s the problem children who are being invited,” said one Member who planned on attending the meeting.

Obama will first meet with leading House liberals who have been complaining loudly about his proposal — and even vowing to oppose it — over of its lack of a public insurance option.

Invited Democratic Members include Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) and Lynn Woolsey (Calif.); Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairman Mike Honda (Calif.); Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (Calif.); Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.); Reps. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.); and Dels. Madeleine Bordallo (Guam) and Donna Christensen (Virgin Islands).

Many in this group will be looking to Obama to “give more than a glimmer of hope” that a public option can be part of the discussion in the coming weeks, Grijalva said.

Honda said that if Obama won’t support some kind of publicly initiated effort in his final plan, he needs to at least highlight in his plan “the pieces of it that are involved without the title.”

After huddling with liberals, Obama will then meet with key Members of the New Democrat Coalition. Many in this group have expressed concerns about Obama’s proposal not doing enough to rein in costs.

The Democratic attendees will include Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), Lois Capps (Calif.), Joe Crowley (N.Y.), Ron Kind (Wis.), Allyson Schwartz (Pa.) and Adam Smith (Wash.).