Why Have 29 Congressional Democrats Stopped Supporting Medicare for All in 2019?

After the 2018 elections were over, we calculated that there were about 130 Democrats elected to Congress who either already were co-sponsors of Medicare for All (H.R. 676), or signaled clear support for Medicare for All during their campaigns.

Last week, when Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) introduced 2019’s version of Medicare for All (H.R. 1384), the bill had 106 co-sponsors, 103 of whom had votes that counted. It’s another painful but important lesson about the limits of politely pushing elected officials to the left; just because they co-sponsor or promise to support legislation doesn’t mean they’ll actually stick around or expend any political capital to make it happen.

New Supporters

First of all, let’s give a modicum of credit to three Democrats who have surprisingly signed on to co-sponsor after ambiguously supporting Medicare for All during their campaigns:

Joseph Kennedy III (MA-04)
Bill Keating (MA-09)
Susan Wild (PA-07)

Let’s hope they stay aboard and are willing to fight for single payer.

Dropoffs from H.R. 676

26 Democrats declined to support this version of Medicare for All after previously co-sponsoring H.R. 676.

Representative Washington DC Office Phone #
John Garamendi (CA-03) (202) 225-1880
Doris Matsui (CA-06) (202) 225-7163
Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) (202) 225-8104
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) (202) 225-3072
Brad Sherman (CA-30) (202) 225-5911
J.Luis Correa (CA-46) (202) 225-2965
Al Lawson (FL-05) (202) 225-0123
Darren Soto (FL-09) (202) 225-9889
Kathy Castor (FL-14) (202) 225-3376
Theodore E. Deutch (FL-22) (202) 225-3001
Sanford D. Bishop (GA-02) (202) 225-3631
David Loebsack (ID-02) (202) 225-6576
John A. Yarmuth (KY-03) (202) 225-5401
Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07) (202) 225-4741
G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) (202) 225-3101
David E. Price (NC-04) (202) 225-1784
Albio Sires (NJ-08) (202) 225-7919
Donald S. Norcross (NJ-01) (202) 225-6501
Hakeem S. Jeffries (NY-08) (202) 225-5936
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) (202) 225-4146
Dwight Evans (PA-03) (202) 225-4001
James E. Clyburn (SC-06) (202) 225-3315
Jim Cooper (TN-05) (202) 225-4311
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) (202) 225-8885
Filemon Vela (TX-34) (202) 225-9901
Gwen Moore (WI-04) (202) 225-4572

Daniel Marans of Huffington Post did some fast legwork to catch up with some of these H.R. 676 dropoffs. Here are some receipts of them talking about Medicare for All in the past:

Freshman Defectors

Three Democrats signaled support for Medicare for All during their campaigns but have not yet signed on to H.R. 1384: Gil Cisneros, Harley Rouda and Sylvia Garcia.

All three won heavily contested primaries against other Democrats who also promised to support single-payer. Did they co-opt progressive language to get elected, shutting out more earnest candidates in the process?

Gil Cisneros (CA-39)

Cisneros was one one of five candidates in the seven-way CA-39 Democratic Congressional primary who said they supported single-payer healthcare, and won 19% of the vote to advance to the general election. The other four candidates were Julio Casteneda (dropped out), Andy Thorburn (9%), Dr. Phil Janowicz (dropped out), and Sam Jamaal (5%).

Here he is on video raising his hand (14:55) when asked if he’d support single-payer:

After beating four other Democrats who also said they supported single-payer, Cisneros pivoted away closer to the general election.

Harley Rouda (CA-48)

Rouda was one of four candidates in the CA-48 Democratic Congressional primary who supported single-payer. The others were Omar Siddiqui, Hans Keirstead and Michael Kotick.

Rouda eked out a tiny, 125-vote win over Keirstead in the primary, picking up about 17% of the vote. Siddiqui got 5% of the vote and Kotick got 1.5% of the vote.

On October 20, 2017, Rouda posted a link on Facebook, asking supporters to sign his petition in support of Medicare for All. On November 3, 2017, he tweeted:

In November of 2018, Pramilia Jayapal’s Medicare for All PAC tweeted an endorsement of Rouda, listing him alongside Andrew Gillum, Josh Harder, Katie Porter, Mike Levin, Katie Hill, Kara Eastman and Liz Watson as candidates who were “committed to making Medicare for All a reality.”

Sylvia Garcia (TX-29)

Garcia was one of seven Democratic candidates for TX-29, getting 60% of the vote. At least two other candidates, including the top runner up, Muhammed Javed, supported Medicare for All on the campaign trail.

On the issues page of her campaign website, Garcia wrote about taking the healthcare fight to Washington, concluding, “I will fight for Medicare for All.”

The 103 Medicare for All Co-Sponsors*

103 Democrats signed on after campaigning on Medicare for All or previously co-sponsoring H.R. 676.

15 of them are new members of Congress:

Chuy Garcia
Mike Levin
Ilhan Omar
Josh Harder
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Joe Neguse
Veronica Escobar
Katie Porter
Rashida Tlaib
Deb Haaland
Andy Levin
Ayanna Pressley
Jahana Hayes
Jared Golden
Katie Hill

88 were re-elected incumbents who previously were co-sponsors of H.R. 676.

Alma S. Adams
Nanette Diaz Barragan
Karen Bass
Joyce Beatty
Donald S. Beyer
Earl Blumenauer
Suzanne Bonamici
Brendan Boyle
Anthony G. Brown
Andre Carson
Matt Cartwright
Judy Chu
David N. Cicilline
Katherine M. Clark
Yvette D. Clarke
Wm.Lacy Clay
Emanuel Cleaver
Steve Cohen
Danny K. Davis
Peter A. DeFazio
Diana DeGette
Mark DeSaulnier
Debbie Dingell
Mike Doyle
Eliot L. Engel
Adriano Espaillat
Lois Frankel
Marcia L. Fudge
Tulsi Gabbard
Ruben Gallego
Jimmy Gomez
Vicente Gonzalez
Al Green
Raul M. Grijalva
Alcee L. Hastings
Brian Higgins
Jared Huffman
Sheila Jackson Lee
Pramila Jayapal
Henry C.”Hank Johnson
Robin L. Kelly
Ro Khanna
James R. Langevin
Brenda L. Lawrence
Barbara Lee
John Lewis
Ted Lieu
Alan S. Lowenthal
Nita M. Lowey
Carolyn B. Maloney
James P. McGovern
Jerry McNerney
Gregory W. Meeks
Grace Meng
Jerrold Nadler
Grace F. Napolitano
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Jimmy Panetta
Donald M. Payne
Ed Perlmutter
Chellie Pingree
Mark Pocan
Jamie Raskin
Lucille Roybal-Allard
Bobby L. Rush
Tim Ryan
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan
Linda T. Sanchez
JohnP. Sarbanes
Janice D. Schakowsky
Adam B. Schiff
Robert C.”Bobby” Scott
Jose E. Serrano
Adam Smith
Jackie Speier
Eric Swalwell
Mark Takano
Mike Thompson
Bennie G. Thompson
Dina Titus
Paul Tonko
Marc A. Veasey
Nydia M. Velazquez
Peter J. Visclosky
Maxine Waters
Bonnie Watson Coleman
Peter Welch
Frederica S. Wilson