Democratic Leaders Party With Fence-Sitters at White House Reception

Posted March 17, 2010 at 10:19pm

A Wednesday night St. Patrick’s Day party at the White House may not have been the most festive occasion for some participants as House Democratic leaders mingled with Members of their Caucus still wavering on whether to vote for health care reform legislation.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) were among those invited to the reception, which included a shamrock presentation to President Barack Obama and an afterschool Irish dancing troop from the Bronx, N.Y.

But invitees also included key House Democrats who are under increasing pressure from Congressional leaders and Obama to help them reach the 216 votes needed to pass a health care overhaul in the coming days. Among them: Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Christopher Carney (Pa.), Michael McMahon (N.Y.) and Scott Murphy (N.Y.).

Murphy is among a handful of Members who Obama has individually summoned to the White House in the past week to discuss their position on health care reform.

Meanwhile, liberal Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said Wednesday evening that he has secured 75 co-sponsors in the past four days on a bill aimed at reviving the public insurance option, which liberals unsuccessfully fought to include in Obama’s health care proposal.

Grayson said on MSNBC that his three-and-a-half page proposal would provide Medicare benefits to all Americans. In the meantime, he praised the health care bill that Democrats are lining up for a vote this weekend.

That bill “is really the triumph of hope over fear. When it passes, that’s what it is: the triumph of hope over fear,” he said.