Progressive Caucus leader warns Dems may stay home from polls over health bill

Democratic votes may stay home from the polls in retribution for Congress failing at health reform, a top liberal lawmaker said Tuesday.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), the co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that members of the Democratic Party's base "aren't even going to go to the polls if they don't have a public option."

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Liberal activists have expressed outrage on Tuesday that the public option, as well as the Medicare buy-in, have been sacked by Democratic leaders in Congress in order to win over enough centrists' votes to pass a bill.

Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean, for instance, joined a chorus of liberals urging Congress to "kill the Senate bill," according to a report by The Plum Line.

"I don't see what we've accomplished," Woolsey said. "If we were going to have insurance reform, we could have done that very simply. If we don't have a public option and at the very least we don't have a Medicare buy in then we aren't offering any competition to the insurance industry."

Woolsey said that she doesn't know she could vote for the Senate bill, reflecting uncertainty that the razor-thin margin by which the House passed healthcare the House in early November.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the other co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also sternly warned he would vote against the Senate proposal.

"The Senate has somehow managed to turn the House’s silk purse into a sow’s ear," he said. "If what the Senate is doing isn’t corrected in conference with the House, I will not support the bill. Since the Senate won’t use reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes, it doesn’t look promising for any real change.”