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CBC Critical of Blue Dogs’ Role in Delaying Health Care Bill

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are taking aim at Democratic moderates who have stalled progress on a massive health care overhaul. Leaders of the 42-member CBC sent a letter Thursday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Barack Obama calling out “some within the Democratic Caucus [who] have raised spurious claims— about the package’s price tag. The missive — signed by CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) — restated the mostly liberal caucus’ commitment to quick action and a robust government insurance health plan. The letter was sent after Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), a CBC member, went after seven Blue Dog Democrats in a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday morning. Johnson said he praised the diversity of the House Democrats’ leadership team before going on to point out that “seven non-diverse members of the Energy and Commerce Committee are holding up health care for people who are sick and dying.—Seven Blue Dogs on the panel, all white men, derailed a markup over concerns about its cost, its impact on small businesses and the shape of its public option. The lawmakers huddled for hours Thursday with Pelosi, Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and two White House officials to try to resolve the deadlock. But they broke in the late afternoon with no deal. Johnson said his argument was “not a matter of racism. But it’s an obvious situation. I mean, look at it. My intention in speaking so harshly was to try to reach the emotions of my colleagues,— he said.

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