By Molly K. Hooper - 10/08/09 03:25 AM EDT
Several House Republicans questioned the motivation behind the
Democrats' new effort to include the GOP in discussions on
For the first time since the debate over healthcare reform began in earnest, House Republicans were invited to participate in meetings with top-level Democrats on the president's controversial healthcare plan.
“The bottom line is, they’re going to do what they are going to do. I guess they just don’t want to look like they didn’t (sit down); it’s more of a dog and pony show," Rep. John FlemingJohn FlemingDavid Duke will bank on racial tensions in Louisiana Senate bid Former KKK leader David Duke running for Senate Overnight Finance: Senate punts on Zika funding | House panel clears final spending bill | Biz groups press Treasury on tax rules | Obama trade rep confident Pacific deal passes this year MORE (R-La.) told The Hill as he walked out of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) meeting with Sebelius.
His colleague Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Co.) echoed the sentiment and said that the conservative faction, which has sponsored a healthcare alternative, will continue to press for a meeting with President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaClinton breaks 'glass ceiling' FULL SPEECH: Howard Dean at the Democratic convention Chelsea Clinton praises 'deeply moving' Sanders speech MORE.
RSC Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said that he understood Coffman's frustration but was appreciative that Sebelius gave an "informative" presentation, listening to members and catching them up on the status of the healthcare reform options tossed around by administration officials and top congressional Democrats.
An administration official took issue with Fleming's characterization of the meeting, noting that it was billed as a question-and-answer session, not a negotiation.
"The Secretary had a productive discussion with the members of the RSC. We are always open to good ideas that will help provide stability and security for Americans with insurance and affordable options for uninsured Americans. The President's plan contains good proposals from both parties and the bill he signs will be built on bipartisan ideas."
Meanwhile, several corridors away, a different group of House lawmakers held the first leadership-sanctioned, bipartisan healthcare reform discussions.
Democratic Caucus Vice-Chairman Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraThe Hill's 12:30 Report Hispanic Democrats: Kaine 'true friend' of Latinos Clinton VP pick could face liberal ire MORE (Calif.) and Republican Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles BoustanyDavid Duke will bank on racial tensions in Louisiana Senate bid Boeing tells lawmakers sale of planes to Iran well-known part of nuclear agreement The Trail 2016: Post-Orlando maneuvers MORE (La.) led the hour-long session that included Democratic Reps. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), Chris MurphyChris MurphyDemocrats: We can win on guns Week ahead in health: All eyes turn to Dem convention Overnight Healthcare: Mysterious new Zika case | Mental health bill in doubt | Teletraining to fight opioids MORE (Conn.), Bill Pascrell (N.J.), Donna Edwards (Md.) and Kathy Castor (Fl.) and Republican Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fl.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Peter Roskam (Ill.), and Mike Rogers (Mich.)
According to Dr. Boustany and others participants, the "conversation" went very well and they intend to meet next week.
The purpose of Wednesday afternoon's bipartisan meeting was to feel out whether the parties could see eye-to-eye on some of the reforms that need to be made to the healthcare system.
Though the participants did not delve into the areas of potential compromise, they came away from the meeting "hopeful" that they may find common ground on issues including insurance reform and medical malpractice.
The bipartisan discussions continue on Thursday, when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Minority Whip Eric CantorEric CantorThree strategies to help Clinton build 'Team of Teams' David Brat may run for Senate if Kaine becomes VP The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Va.) meet to talk about areas of compromise as well.