Here is the current status of the House Progressive backlash against the health care "deal" negotiated by Henry Waxman and four Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee:
53 House Progressives will vote against deal: In their press conference today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus stated that 53 Progressives will vote against any bill containing the measures in the Waxman-Blue Dog deal. With 218 required for a majority, and 178 Republicans, that is more than enough to block health care reform from passing the House until these Progressives are statisfied.
Medicare rates are the line in the sand: There were several Progressive objections to the Waxman-Blue Dog deal, but the line in the sand appears to be a public option with Medicare rates. From the letter signed by 53 House Progressives:
Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates - not negotiated rates - is unacceptable.
Waxman-Blue Dog deal will pass out of committee. The progressive backlash will not stop the Waxman-Blue Dog deal from passing out of committee. The markup in the committee has continued today, and none of the 53 progressives mentioned above sit on the Energy and Commerce committee.
Progressive plan is to change the bill both before, and in, the Rules Committee. Before there can be a full House vote on health care legislation, the three different health care bills that have / will come from three different committees need to be merged by the Rules Committee. One of the other committee chairs to produce a health care bill, Charles Rangel, has made it clear that strengthening the public option in the rules Committee is his plan.
Rules Committee is relatively progressive. You can see the members of the Rules Committee here. Democrats hold an 8-5 advantage on the committee. There are five members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, plus Doris Matsui. There are also two Blue Dogs, Mike Arcuri and Dennis Cardozza. However, while they are Blue Dogs, neither Arcuri nor Cardozza signed any of the various letters expressing "concern" over health care reform. As such, this is indeed fertile ground for making sure the Waxman-Blue Dog deal doesn't make it to the floor.
Of course, all of this remains contingent upon the ongoing strength of the Progressive Block relative to the Blue Dogs. We have to make it easier for the leadership to break the Blue Dogs than to break the Progressive Block. Keep up the calls--this fight remains very winnable.