Key House Liberal: No Public Option, No Deal

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Amid the praise from Democrats for Sen. Olympia Snowe’s vote to help pass a health care bill from the Finance Committee, liberal members of both the House and the Senate remain concerned about the shape the health care bill is taking.

On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Rep. Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus , said he will join liberal colleagues in voting against any health care reform bill that doesn’t include a strong “public option” that would compete with private insurers.

“I venture to say that without a robust public option, a bill cannot get out of the House of Representatives,” said Grijalva, D-Ariz. “If that’s not in there, I can’t support it.”

Grijalva called it a “waste of time” to try to try to address the concerns of Snowe, R-Maine, when Democrats have the votes to pass a bill without any Republican support.

“Obviously it worries many of us a great deal that we’re going to basically write the legislation to cater to a vote or maybe two votes in the Senate on the Republican side,” Grijalva said. “The fact of the matter is I think at the end of the day there’s going to be unanimity among the Republicans, both in the House and in the Senate, to vote against any health care reform.”

“So I think it is a waste of time for the White House and to some extent for leadership to continue to cater to one vote, when in reality the best opportunity to pass it is [with] a solid, unified caucus of the Democrats pushing for reform with a robust public option.”

He rejected Snowe’s proposal that a public option be applied through a “trigger” mechanism, where it would kick into place only if the private sector doesn’t provide the savings Congress expects.

“The trigger will never occur. That’s our fear,” Grijalva said. “So the consequence of a trigger is effectively to kill a public option.”

Grijalva also said the White House has made a commitment to stakeholders to take up immigration reform next year, even though big legislative items are difficult to tackle in congressional election years.

“That is a commitment both in the political sense, and in a moral sense, that was made to many people. And I think the Latino community invested in hope in this election, and in overwhelming numbers to help his fine administration and this new Congress that we have in this country. I think they’re looking for a reciprocal response. And immigration reform is that response we want, that’s the commitment that was made.”

Click HERE to see the interview with Rep. Raul Grijalva.

We also chatted with Ana Marie Cox of Air America , who said liberals are frustrated after months’ of committee talks that were designed to draw the vote of a single Republican senator.

“We’re now crafting legislation to please a single person. One person. And that is tremendously frustrating,” she told us. “And if people can make that case to voters, I think they will be frustrated with that kind of negotiation, and hopefully the moderate Democrats will gain some spine.”

Watch the full discussion with Ana Marie Cox, including some our nominees for Least Powerful People in DC (in homage to GQ, which came out with its “most powerful” list this week ), HERE .

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