From NBC's Luke Russert
In a press conference today on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Black Caucus reiterated its support for a "robust public option" within the House healthcare reform bill.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said, "As members of the Congressional Black Caucus, we are unwavering in our support of a robust public option." When asked by NBC News whether or not the CBC would join Republicans and vote against a healthcare reform bill that did not have a public option, Lee explained "We are going to continue to fight and work hard to make sure it is included." That answer however, seemed to leave some wiggle room.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, President of the NAACP cranked up the rhetoric in support of a public option saying, "What a public option is all about is trying to give American's the very essence of free market capitalism, choice and competition."
Jealous then brought 2010 politics into the discussion proclaiming the NAACP's strength in the districts of Blue Dog Democrats and even moderate Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, "We are in the district of each Blue Dog in this Congress, we are in Maine and we intend to roll out a campaign called 880, because 880,000 black people would be alive in this decade if we had had real healthcare reform in the last decade." Jealous then said the NAACP would pay special attention to Blue Dog districts that have a population made up of 15% or more African-Americans.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) equivocated the fight for health-care reform with civil rights saying, "We stand here today, because we are in a movement; this is a repeat of the Civil Rights movement."
A point of interest in the coming days will be whether or not the CBC will support a health-care reform bill without a public option. After today's press conference, it seems unlikely that they would vote with Republicans against a health-care reform bill simply to stand their ground.