Meehan sticks to middle ground in health care debate

The first thing you notice is his size.

He's well over 6 feet tall, a commanding presence.

Then there's that distinctive shock of silver hair.

Pat Meehan is in the house.

The congressman who represents the bulk of Delaware County paid a visit to our new office in Swarthmore Tuesday. He and his aide, John Elizandro reached out over the weekend, said they were going to be in the area, and wondered if they could drop by. I said sure - but with one caveat.

I wanted the session to be on the record.

I did not hear back from Elizandro until they showed up at the front desk.

I inquired again. Elizandro looked at his boss and asked him if he was alright with that. Sure, Meehan said.

What happened next was a 45-minute conversation in which Meehan laid out his stance on health care in the wake of last week's disastrous GOP decision to pull their American Health Care Act instead of facing a sure loss in the House vote.

Meehan talked about his move to push the bill out of the House Ways and Means Committee and out to a House vote as a way to move the legislative process forward.

But he said even then he had serious reservations about it. Those no doubt were reinforced by the weekly protests outside his office that drew hundreds opposed to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Meehan played this one right down the middle politically. It's a place he finds himself often.

Before the vote, he said he was undecided, still inspecting the legislation and talking to constituents.

Only after the bill was pulled did he put out a statement saying that he would have opposed the measure.

Yesterday in our office, he said that he actually had his mind up to oppose the measure on Thursday. Too bad he didn't feel the need to tell his constituents that until after the bill was pulled.

Now he will no doubt hear from Dems who will point to his vote in committee to move the bill forward.

But he didn't actually have to vote, sticking instead to his familiar, safe middle ground.

Don't take my word for it.

You can hear Meehan himself talk about it.

We have a podcast of the bulk of the interview.

You can listen to it here.