By Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff
Indications so far are that President Obama is not going to map out a detailed strategy for passing the health care bill in his State of the Union address tonight.
But with the president's erstwhile top domestic priority foundering since Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown to the Senate last week, denying Democrats the 60th vote they need to pass a final compromise, health care advocates and liberal groups are using the hours before Obama's speech to demand action.
"While many of the provisions of the House bill are preferable to those in the Senate version, we believe that the House of Representatives should step forward and pass the Senate bill," said Mary G. Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters, in a statement issued this afternoon.
The American Cancer Society said cancer patients would gather around the country to watch the State of the Union address: "Cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones are calling on the President to continue to make meaningful health care reform a top national priority," the group said in a release.
The Main Street Alliance, a group of business owners who support the health care legislation, wrote in a letter to the president and Congressional leaders: "This is no time to consider scaling back a reform bill that must make health insurance affordable for businesses and our employees, share the responsibility of improving coverage fairly among individuals, employers, and the government, and reform the health insurance market to keep insurance companies honest."
The liberal activist group MoveOn Political Action, meanwhile, said a survey of its members found that three-quarters won't donate to Democratic candidates in this year's midterm elections if Democrats fail to pass comprehensive health care reform. The group says its members contributed $125 million to Democratic candidates in 2008.
"These surveys are consistent with sentiment we saw coming out of Massachusetts last week—that people are looking for Democrats to fight for real change," said executive director Justin Ruben in a statement. "Right now, that starts with comprehensive health care reform. We’re at a crossroads and if Democrats want to maintain the enthusiasm among donors and volunteers they need to win in 2010, they need to get health care done."
Congressional leaders have been floundering over the last week for a strategy on health care. Every day it seems the message changes -- yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared that there was "no rush," today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress should not retreat from the issue.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.