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Liberal Democrats threaten health care reform — MedCity Morning Read, July 31, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After marching in line as senior Democrats worked with the White House to develop health care reform legislation, liberal lawmakers are threatening a revolt that could doom President Obama’s bid to sign a major overhaul bill this year, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the House, liberal Democrats are furious at their […]

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After marching in line as senior Democrats worked with the White House to develop health care reform legislation, liberal lawmakers are threatening a revolt that could doom President Obama’s bid to sign a major overhaul bill this year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the House, liberal Democrats are furious at their leaders for striking a deal with conservative Democrats that would weaken a proposal to create a government insurance program, a dream long cherished on the left. On Thursday, 57 of the liberals sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, warning that they would vote against any bill that contains the terms of the deals, the Times said.

Meanwhile in the Senate, a growing number of Democrats and Republicans took aim at an effort led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, to craft centrist legislation that would attract Republicans, eliminating a government plan altogether. The rising tide of liberal anger sent the White House scrambling, with Obama calling at least one left-leaning lawmaker to offer reassurance of the success of health reform before Congress leaves town for its summer recess, according to the L.A. Times.

Ever since Democrats won congressional majorities in 2006, party leaders have struggled to balance the demands of their liberal and conservative members, the Times said.

Another sign of liberal unrest: an anti-abortion amendment to proposed House legislation was rejected by a committee late Thursday — a dramatic reversal just hours after the measure had been approved, according to the Associated Press. The amendment said that health care reform legislation could not impose requirements to cover abortions unless a woman’s life were in danger, or if a pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. It was approved in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with conservative Democrats joining Republicans to support it, the AP said.

Hours later, energy committee Chairman Henry Waxman invoked House rules and brought the amendment up for a second vote, despite Republican objections. This time, one conservative Democrat — Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee — changed his vote to “no” from “yes.” And a second conservative Democrat who hadn’t voted the first time, Rep. Zack Space from Ohio, voted “no,” the Associated Press said. The two votes were enough to take down the amendment.

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[Photo credit: By Ed Brown, as Edbrown05, on 05-04-2005; posted at Wikipedia Commons]

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