Progressives pressure AOC, other Dems to force Pelosi's hand on Medicare-for-All vote
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A new progressive movement popping up in Democratic circles led by political comedian Jimmy Dore, is pushing House Democrats to align and force Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to bring a vote to the floor on Medicare for All.
The initiative known as #ForceTheVote is calling on the "squad" along with recently elected progressives, like Rep.-elects Jamaal Bowman of New York and Cori Bush from Missouri, to push back on Pelosi by demanding she allow a vote on the single-payer health care system in exchange for her re-election as speaker.
"We put the Squad and House progressives in office to stand up to Nancy Pelosi, establishment Democrats, and the insurance corporations that fund them," declared the movement in a statement. "This is a rare moment where Pelosi needs something from progressives."
The movement has caught the attention of some political activists like NFL Chargers player Justin Jackson, who started a public discussion on Twitter with squad member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
"If [Ocasio-Cortez] and the squad don’t do what [Dore] has suggested and withhold their vote for Pelosi for speakership unless Med 4 All gets brought to the floor for a vote…they will be revealing themselves," Jackson wrote on Twitter earlier this month. "Power concedes nothing without a demand."
But Ocasio-Cortez responded by saying the calls to elect Pelosi as speaker in exchange for a House vote on Medicare for All, isn’t as easy as holding Pelosi hostage.
"Problem w/ this idea is that there isn’t enough thought given to step 2," Ocasio-Cortez responded. "The Dem votes aren’t there yet, and with a razor-thin margin the Dem NOs are > margin. So you issue threats, hold your vote, and lose. Then what? If you want to know who’s opposed look @ cosponsor list."
House Democrats lost 12 seats at the November polls lessening their majority in the House – though some have theorized this could actually benefit left-leaning progressives, including Ocasio-Cortez.
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"The slimmer margin, it cuts both ways," Ocasio-Cortez told the conservative magazine, The Dispatch earlier this month. "It’s tough because we have to make sure that we cobble together a winning majority, but also it’s solid because we’re able to push a little bit more."
Centrist Democrats pointed to progressive measures like the Green New Deal and calls to "defund the police" pushed by "squad" members, including Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; and Rashida Tlaib of Michgian as the reason Democrats took hits at the polls.
But progressives pushed back against the accusations, claiming that the Democratic Party saw losses because "establishment Democrats" did not effectively identify what voters were looking for in the general election.
Instead of losing power with a smaller Democratic majority, progressive lawmakers may be able to better steer Pelosi’s agenda by the fact that the speaker will need every Democrat's vote to get legislation through – a strategy Dore is urging progressives to use.
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Though as Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, the progressive measures still need enough support from the entire party to be able to get passed, meaning the "squad" and it’s growing members will not be able to dictate Pelosi’s agenda in passing Medicare for All on their own.
Dore could not be immediately reached for comment.
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