No public option, no health care "reform". Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake reports 60 House Democrats—led by Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA)—sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last night, drawing a line in the sand and "making it crystal clear that if there is no public plan coming out of a conference bill, they won't vote for it."
The letter reads in part: "To take the public option off the table would be a grave error; passage in the House of Representatives depends upon inclusion of it. .. Any legislation that moves forward through both chambers, and into a final proposal for the President's signature, MUST contain a public option."
Signatories include Barney Frank (MA), the powerful gay Banking Committee chair, and strong Congressional Black Caucus LGBT allies such as Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), John Conyers (MI), Alcee Hastings (FL), Maxine Waters (CA), Keith Ellison (MN), Andre Carson (IN) and Emmanuel Cleaver (MO). Is your representative on the list?
Sixty members signed the letter but Rep. Anthony Weiner puts the actual number at "probably around 100."
In related news: Within the last few hours President Obama and Secretary Sebelius have attempted to distance themselves from their weekend remarks where both said a public option is "no longer essential" for health insurance "reform". "Everyone thought the progressives could be taken for granted," writes Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog. "They can't be."
Memo to the White House: At some point, you have to dance with the people who brought you to the party.
UPDATE: Hamsher is on Rachel Maddow right now discussing this. Will post video when available.