With the U.S. House now out of session after Labor Day, Democrats seem certain to be in for what could be a feisty series of district town hall meetings, which seem likely to focus on health care reform.
“That’s what we’re going to be talking about,” says Blue Dog Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK), who right now says he’s not on board with the bill being backed by Democratic leaders.
“Most of our constituents are opposed to it,” Boren told me off the House floor last week.
“I want to do something to pass health care reform, but the current bill in the House is something I can’t support.”
Boren is a Blue Dog who has not hesitated to buck his leadership on a variety of issues since he’s been in Congress, as his Eastern Oklahoma district is very conservative.
But in this debate, he’s let others take the lead on cutting deals with Democratic leaders, like the one last week that allowed work in the Energy and Commerce Committee to go forward, as that panel approved a health bill on Friday night.
“I think it was a positive step forward, at least cutting $100 billion out,” of the bill, Boren said.
“Some might say that’s not enough; I’d like to see more cost savings, but at least that’s a step in the right direction,” Boren added.
Boren the Congressman is no stranger to this kind of position, as he went against his party on the Iraq War, and grew up watching his father play the middle ground while a Senator from Oklahoma.
Now Boren The Young fully expects vocal opposition to President Obama’s plans to dominate his August gatherings with constituents.
“I’m actually going to take the House (health) bill with me to some of these meetings, and just say ‘Here it is if you want to take a look at it’.”
Boren says he’s still holding out hope that the Senate can take a more moderate approach on health reform, but as of now, the Senate won’t produce a new bill until September at the earliest.
It will be an interesting next few weeks, with critics on the attack and middle-ground Democrats like Boren taking heat over which side on the fence they should be on in the health care debate.