Washington Report

Updates from Capitol Hill

Rev. Jackson Slams Black House Member



In an attempt to make peace with Rep. Artur Davis, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has backed away from statements he made Wednesday night calling out the Alabama Democrat for voting against the healthcare reform bill that passed earlier this month.

“We even have blacks voting against the healthcare bill,” Jackson said at a Congressional Black Caucus reception in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his presidential bid. “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”

However, by Thursday night Jackson had spoken to Davis, according to news reports, to “assure him of my abiding admiration of him as a leader who is engaged in a huge challenge. I offer no challenge to his integrity as a leader. Representatives should all vote their conscience in the interest of their constituency.”

Before their conversation, Davis, who is running for governor of his home state, said he has a lot of respect for Jackson, but he’s not running to be the leader of or spokesman for one community and has to demonstrate that he can represent Alabama’s “entirety of viewpoints.”

But more important, he said, he thinks the House bill is a bad bill, which he’s said numerous times since July. He said he was surprised that others are surprised by his decision.

“I think the Senate bill is better in a lot of respects and we’ll get a better bill in conference than the one the House [passed],” said Davis, adding that the final conference bill is the one that will actually determine the fate of healthcare reform.

According to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who was at the CBC reception, Davis’s controversial vote is being “widely discussed” among civil rights leaders and black elected officials around the country behind closed doors.
He’s also not buying the “politics is local” argument. “I think all members of Congress are obligated to vote their districts,” Cleaver said.

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