Progressives are taking aim at some of their closest allies in the Senate, pressuring liberals to demand a public option in healthcare reform.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is launching a series of robocalls and ads in Vermont and Wisconsin asking Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) to vote against any bill that does not contain a government-administered insurance plan.
The pressure is part of the group's "Be a Hero" campaign. The PCCC hopes that by demanding public option, a single liberal senator can exert the same influence on the legislation that centrists have. The group will also deliver petitions to Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
All four of the targeted senators voted both for cloture and the Senate bill itself. PCCC is hoping that at least one of them will hold out for some kind of public plan during negotiations with the House.
Sanders, Feingold and other Senate progressives have strongly supported a
public option, but their desire to see some legislation passed has
so far stopped them from issuing an ultimatum on the issue.
"Bernie Sanders can be a hero at this historic moment by declaring that any final bill must have a public option to win his support," said PCCC co-foudner Adam Green. "That would change the entire calculus in House-Senate negotiations and force President Obama to finally fight back against Joe Lieberman's threats."
Here's the TV ad targeting Feingold in Wisconsin. Audio of the Vermont robocall is below.