House Whip Getting Whip Counted
So I guess Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, would rather go slow with an incremental approach to health care reform. None of this is new - Clyburn first said this right after the election on Meet The Press, and I question just how influential he is on this issue. Nevertheless, what's interesting to me is the speed with which progressive groups are confronting Clyburn over his comments.
One of the leading health care reform groups in Washington on Monday issued a strong rebuttal to House Democratic Whip James Clyburn for suggesting a comprehensive health care reform bill would not pass Congress in 2009.
Health Care For America Now's National Campaign Manager Richard Kirsch wrote:
"We hope that Congressman Clyburn will join with President Obama and the 178 Members of the 111th Congress, including a great majority of the House Leadership, who have all stated that they want to see comprehensive health care reform passed in 2009. Now is not the time to take small steps to solve big problems. The Health Care for America Now (HCAN) statement signed by President Obama and Members of Congress explicitly states support for an enactment of quality, affordable health care for all in 2009."
The statement, notable for its direct targeting of Clyburn, comes after the South Carolina Democrat said over the weekend that an incremental approach towards health care reform would be better "than to go out and just bite something you can't chew."
HCAN is asking South Carolinians to call Clyburn and urge him to reconsider his comments. His DC office is at (202) 225-3315.
It's important that there is a group ready to mobilize as soon as any Democrat in the leadership gets cold feet or attempts to create some wiggle room on comprehensive health care reform. This happened within a day, and it's something that almost never happened in 1994. Constituent pressure in the direction of a progressive solution has been sorely needed on this issue, and HCAN is fulfilling its role.
Meanwhile, John Conyers is dropping HR 676 today. Backers of the plan need to take that lesson from HCAN - bottom-up pressure is crucial.