The White House begins its campaign to get skeptical Democrats on board health care reform on Thursday afternoon when the president plans to sit down with a group of progressive and pro-business House Democrats in two separate meetings.
Obama will host a total of 18 lawmakers, including many officials who have publicly expressed doubts about supporting the legislation, over the course of several hours. The task is a tall one, underscoring the difficulties that the administration faces in corralling disparate caucus demands and philosophies behind a health care bill that needs 216 votes for passage.
During the first meeting, the president will have to assuage concerns that the health care bill is not bold enough, as he sits down with a group of skeptical liberal lawmakers -- including leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Progressive Caucus. Following that, Obama will meet with members of the New Democrat Coalition, whose members have voiced worries that the bill goes too far, in terms of its price tag and government-led reforms.
An administration official said that the goal is to start "a dialogue with members" that will continue over time and hopefully crest in the passage of the Senate's bill followed by reconciliation changes.
"I think today and moving forward a lot of these things will happen fluidly," the official added. "As issues come up, we will be talking to whoever we need to talk to."
Asked if more White House meetings were in the offing, the official replied: "Yes."
Below is the list of meetings and attendees.
At 1:30PM EST, the President will meet with House Members in the Roosevelt Room. This meeting is closed press. Expected attendees include:
Representative Madeleine Bordallo, D-GU, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair, Health Care Task Force Chair
Representative Donna Christensen, D-VI, Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Health Care Task Force Co-chair
Representative Danny Davis, D-IL, Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Health Care Task Force Co-chair
Representative Raul Grijalva, D-AZ, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chair
Representative Mike Honda, D-CA, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair
Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Health Care Task Force Co-chair
Representative Barbara Lee, D-CA, Congressional Black Caucus Chair
Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Health Care Task Force Co-Chair
Representative Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Health Care Task Force Co-chair
Representative Nydia Velazquez, D-NY, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair
Representative Lynn Woolsey, D-CA, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chair
At 2:30PM EST, the President will meet with leadership of the New Democrat Coalition in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press. Expected attendees include:
Representative Jason Altmire, D-PA, Health Task Force Co-Chair
Representative Melissa Bean, D- IL, Vice-Chair & Whip
Representative Lois Capps, D-CA, Health Task Force Co-Chair
Representative Joseph Crowley, D-NY, Chair
Representative Ron Kind, D-WI, Vice-Chair
Representative Allyson Schwartz, D-PA, Vice-Chair, Health Task Force Co-Chair
Representative Adam Smith, D-WA, Vice-Chair