In recent weeks, it has become clear that the vote in the House of Representatives for the Senate’s health care bill will be very close. One of the few progressive holdouts on the bill had been Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who had previously announced his intention to vote against the bill because it lacks both a strong public option and a waiver from ERISA laws for states to pursue their own single-payer systems. Today, during a press conference on Capitol Hill, Kucinich recounted his own struggles growing up with poverty and lack of health insurance and announced that he will vote in favor of the Senate health care bill, even though the bill “isn’t the one [he] wanted to support”:
KUCINICH: I lived in twenty-one different places by the time I was seventeen, including a couple cars. I understand the connection between poverty and poor health care…I struggled with Crohn’s disease for much of my adult life. [...] I have doubts about the bill. I do not think it a step towards anything I supported in the past. This is not the bill I wanted to support, even as I continued efforts until the last minute to try to modify the bill. However, after careful discussions with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, my wife Elizabeth, and close friends, I’ve decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation. If my vote is to be counted, let it count now for passage of the bill — hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health care reform.
Kucinich explained his “real desire” see “our President succeed.” He added, “We have to look at what’s going on in this country. One of the things that’s bothered me is the attempt to delegitimize his presidency. That hurts the nation, when that happens. He was elected. Even though I’ve had some serious differences of opinion with the administration, this is a defining moment for whether or not we’ll have any opportunity to move off of square one on the issue of health care.” Watch it:
Kucinich is one of the co-authors of H.R. 676, which would create a single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care system. It currently has 78 co-sponsors. The congressman ran twice for president on the platform of establishing a single-payer health care system, in 2004 and 2008. During the press conference Kucinich reiterated that he will continue to advocate for such a system.
Donna Brazille tweets a comment Kucinich made during the press conference: “I have taken a detour in supporting this bill, but I know the destination.”