The Service Employees International Union's leadership held a meeting last night to discuss its stance on the Senate health care bill, now that its Medicare buy-in provision has been stripped, and the union did not come up with a definitive answer on whether or not it supports the current bill.
Instead, it issued a challenge today to President Obama to fight for something better.
"Our challenge to you, to the President, to the Senate and to the House of Representatives is to fight," SEIU President Andy Stern wrote in an email to SEIU members today.
"SEIU does not accept that this monumental effort - that this reform that is so necessary to the health and wellbeing of our economy, our families and our future - can be over without a fight. A fight to make it work for you and your families," Stern wrote. .
Stern goes on to issue the direct call on Obama and lawmakers to fight (boldface reproduced from original e-mail):
We know we will fight. We will continue to fight for everything we know is important. We will fight to make care affordable. We will fight for real health insurance reforms. We will fight for employers to provide their employees with coverage. And, we will fight to pay for all of it responsibly without a tax on your benefits.
But we aren't the only ones who must fight.
President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of "Yes We Can" was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself. We all stood shoulder to shoulder with the President during his hard fought campaign. And, we will continue to stand with him but he must fight for the reform we all know is possible. He must fight for Cynthia, Maria, and Gerry - for every American.
Our challenge to you, to the President, to the Senate and to the House of Representatives is to fight. Now, more than ever, all of us must stand up, remember what health insurance reform is all about, and fight like hell to deliver real and meaningful reform to the American people.
SEIU was one of Obama most vocal groups of supporters during the campaign. It backed Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, and it spent millions to see him get elected. Stern was included in high-level meetings at the White House as health care industry players were brought to the table.
SEIU's response to the Senate bill falls in line with what other progressive groups, like MoveOn.org and Health Care for America Now! have said: that they're not satisfied with the current, post-Lieberman bill, and that they want Democrats and President Obama to make improvements to it.
Liberals have largely stopped short of calling on Democrats to vote against the current bill.
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