Yesterday we wrote about a "Whip List"
leaked to the media of Congressional Progressive Caucus members who had confidentially promised party leadership to only vote
for a health care proposal that included "a robust public option."
Scanning the names on the list, most of the Bay Area representatives were accounted for -- but not Reps. Pete Stark (D-Fremont) and George Miller (D-Concord). We called their offices to find out why they remained unlisted -- and, this morning, we got a call back.
Brian Cook, the communications director for Stark, affirmed that both Congressmen are emphatic supporters of a strong public option in health care and were original sponsors of the bill, HR 3200. In fact, Stark's Ways and Means Health Subcommittee -- which he chairs -- "voted out" the health care reform bill at 12:30 a.m. this morning (you read that right) and Miller's Education and Workforce Committee -- which he, too, chairs -- followed suit at around 11 a.m. Eastern time today. Both Congressmen are appearing at a 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time (12:30 Eastern) press conference alongside Rep. Nancy Pelosi to tout HR 3200's progress; the 1990s-era stab at healthcare reform was marked by nothing passing out of committee.
Both Congressmen are "very, very, very strong supporters" of the public option, vouches Cook.
As to why neither was named on the Progressive Caucus' list of Congressmen promising a "yes" vote only on a health care bill with a strong public option, Cook would not speculate. But we will -- since Stark and Miller are both overtly involved with shepherding this bill into law, and both are also on the negotiating body that will work with other members of Congress and President Obama, it might not be beneficial to have their names attached to a list that could be viewed as a coercive barganing tool. Besides, if they're leaders in the movement, their votes should be counted on -- right?
"Pete and Mr. Miller are both very, very strong supporters of public health care," affirmed Cook.