Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has got to be frustrated by the process surrounding the healthcare reform proposals in Congress. While people like Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, get all the attention, liberals like him are left out of the public discussion. (In the House, the liberals are more influential than in the Senate, where the crucial votes are more likely to come from the center.)
The senator showed some of that frustration recently, telling constituents recently, "Nobody is going to bring a bill before Christmas, and maybe not even then, if this ever happens. The divisions are so deep. [I've] never seen anything like that."
According to the Lakeland Times, Feingold later added, "We're headed in the direction of doing absolutely nothing, and I think that's unfortunate."
(Hat tip to Political Wire.)
Update: And now for the ritual walkback, contained in a statement put out by his spokesman – though, in Feingold's defense, the original comments are about a week old. Here's the full statement:
At the beginning of the August recess, most folks coming out were opposed to any sort of health care reform. But in the last few I have held, I have noticed more and more reform proponents coming out and being heard. Overall, in the seventeen years I’ve been holding these meetings, there has been strong support for health care reform. I’ve been saying for weeks that it will probably be right before Christmas before we have a health care reform bill to vote on. I will continue working to make sure we do and it is one with a strong public option.