CBC members confronted Dogs during caucus

I reported yesterday on the letter sent by the Congressional Black Caucus targeting the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs for making "spurious" claims about the cost of health care reforms.

The CBCers want more funding for the uninsured, poor and to eradicate racial health disparities; The Dogs, many of them in conservative battleground districts, want deficit-busting cost cuts .

My colleague Patrick O’Connor has a little more of the back story — a confrontation between CBC members and House leadership at yesterday’s closed-door caucus meeting.

CBC member Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson pointed to the crowd, a diverse black, white and brown caucus, and suggested it wasn’t fair for seven mostly Southern Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee — who hold the keys to the bill — to obstruct.

Johnson made clear, beforehand, that he wasn’t trying to "play the race card" — but highlighting ideological differences

"I wanted everyone to visualize that," Johnson told O’Connor. "It’s nothing racial…but it’s an obvious situation when you look at it."

Johnson said he doesn’t want his colleagues to fixate on the minutiae without also acknowledging the human face of health care reform. During his remarks, he talked about a young child who died of a toothache in the late-1980s because he didn’t have the proper health care.

Johnson wasn’t alone. "We don’t think any one group in our caucus should be able to derail the process," said Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), speaking at a Thursday CBC presser.

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