On healthcare, a fragile peace with the Blue Dogs

A key committee calls an end to its Democratic infighting -- for now, at least

By Vincent Rossmeier
July 27, 2009 8:01PM (UTC)
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Since Congress first took up the issue of healthcare reform earlier this year, Blue Dog Democrats have been a thorn in the side of President Obama and his allies. Recently, seven Blue Dog members of the House's Energy and Commerce Committee impeded movement on a healthcare bill. The Education and Labor Committee and the Ways and Means Committee have already passed versions of the legislation, but the fiscally conservative Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee have expressed concerns about the cost of the bill and how it will effect rural populations.

However, just at the point where it seemed Democratic leaders in the House might be running out of patience, there was some movement towards harmony within the party.


On Friday, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the chairman of Energy and Commerce, was ready to allow his committee to be bypassed if the Blue Dogs on his committee wouldn't agree to a compromise. "I won't allow them to hand over control of our committee to Republicans," Waxman said. "I don’t see what other alternative we have, because we're not going to let them empower Republicans on the committee."

Later in the day, though, peace was restored. Committee Blue Dogs apologized for calling Waxman a liar, and both sides agreed to keep talking.

"Nothing is irreconcilable," Waxman said, "unless you decide it's irreconcilable." 

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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