With Republicans unified in their opposition, Democrats are drafting plans to try on their own to pass a bill based on one Mr. Obama unveiled before his bipartisan health forum last week. His measure hews closely to the one passed by the Senate in December, but differs markedly from the one passed by the House.
That leaves Ms. Pelosi in the tough spot of trying to keep wavering members of her caucus on board, while persuading some who voted no to switch their votes to yes — all at a time when Democrats are worried about their prospects for re-election.
So it's back to the Blue Dogs, who would prefer to sit this one out back in their well-appointed kennel:
Representative Dennis Cardoza, Democrat of California, typifies the speaker’s challenge. The husband of a family practice doctor, he is intimately familiar with the failings of the American health care system. His wife “comes home every night,” he said, “angry and frustrated at insurance companies denying people coverage they have paid for.”
But as a member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, Mr. Cardoza is not convinced that Mr. Obama’s bill offers the right prescription. It lacks anti-abortion language he favors, and he does not think it goes far enough in cutting costs. So while he voted for the House version — “with serious reservations,” he said — he is now on the fence.
“I think we can do better,” Mr. Cardoza said of the president’s proposal.
Note the cognitive dissonance here -- insurance companies are bad because they are "denying people coverage" but Cardoza is frustrated that the bill on offer doesn't go far enough in cutting costs, which would just mean that a different payer, perhaps a single payer, would do the same thing the evil insurance companies do now.
Lawmakers sometimes must enact policies that, even if unpopular at the moment, will help the public, Pelosi said in an interview being broadcast Sunday the ABC News program "This Week."
"We're not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress," she said. "We're here to do the job for the American people."
Her comments to ABC, in the interview released Sunday, seemed to acknowledge the widely held view that Democrats will lose House seats this fall -- maybe a lot. They now control the chamber 255 to 178, with two vacancies. Pelosi stopped well short of suggesting Democrats could lose their majority, but she called on members of her party to make a bold move on health care with no prospects of GOP help.
"Time is up," she said. "We really have to go forth."