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Call Report: Yvette Clarke’s Office Doesn’t Remember Her Pledge To Vote “No”

I’m going over the call reports and I see that staffers for Yvette Clark (NY-11) are saying she is “undecided” as to whether she’ll vote for the Senate bill or not, and that all the calls she’s getting are from people asking her to vote “for” it:

I spoke to someone named Meena, who said that she had fielded a lot of calls over the past few days from people telling Yvette Clarke to vote for the bill as it stands. She said no one had called to say otherwise. She said she would “probably” make a decision one way or the other by Tuesday 1/26.

That’s curious because Clarke is one of 60 Democrats who signed a letter saying she wouldn’t vote for a bill without a public option, and she has said that her constituents very much want one:

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Call Report: Yvette Clarke’s Office Doesn’t Remember Her Pledge To Vote “No”

I’m going over the call reports and I see that staffers for Yvette Clark (NY-11) are saying she is “undecided” as to whether she’ll vote for the Senate bill or not, and that all the calls she’s getting are from people asking her to vote “for” it:

I spoke to someone named Meena, who said that she had fielded a lot of calls over the past few days from people telling Yvette Clarke to vote for the bill as it stands. She said no one had called to say otherwise. She said she would “probably” make a decision one way or the other by Tuesday 1/26.

That’s curious because Clarke is one of 60 Democrats who signed a letter saying she wouldn”t vote for a bill without a public option, and she has said that her constituents very much want one:

7/24/09 Yvette Clarke on MSNBC

CARLOS WATSON:  If the President comes to you and says “Congresswoman Clarke, no one wants this to happen more than I do.  But it has to happen in stages, that’s just the reality, it’s a tough battle and I don’t have everything I need right now.  I need your vote, I need your support.  Will you support a bill that doesn’t include a public option?”

YVETTE CLARKE:  No, I can’t support a bill that doesn’t have a public option.

On what do her constituents think: “My constituents want to make sure they have access to a public option.”

8/11/09 Yvette Clarke on WNYC discussing the July 30 letter:

AMY EDDINGS:  Are you sticking with that? You would vote against health care reform if the public option isn’t want you hoped it would be?

YVETTE CLARKE:  Yes. Yes.  Even a watered down version — it has to be competitive in order for it to work.

8/31/09 Clarke promises Eve Gittelson she will vote against any bill without a public option:

Rep. Clarke: There is no health care reform without a robust public option.

Eve Gittelson: You are saying you will not vote for any bill through conference that does not have a public option.

Rep. Clarke: That is correct.

That’s quite a video legacy to turn your back on.

History

This appears to be a pattern with Clarke.   She switched her vote on supplemental war funding too:

Rep. Clarke signed the 2007 letter saying she would not vote for any war funding that did not include troop withdrawal.  She voted “no” on the war supplemental the first time it went through the House this year.  She signed Maxine Waters’ letter saying that the IMF funding subsequently added to the supplemental “precluded the possibility of House legislation.”

Her name appeared on internal whip lists as someone who pledged to her colleagues that she would vote against the supplemental when it had to be confirmed after conference.  And then the arm twisting started.

Rep. Clarke voted FOR on the supplemental.

Conflicts of Interest

When small dollar online donors raised $430,000 to support those members of Congress who had pledged to vote “no” on any bill without a public option, $5966 went to Clarke.  But she also had two fundraisers last year thrown by lobbyist Tim Rupli, who represents finance interests and the anti-immigrant Numbers USA.

As a cosponsor of H.R. 676, she’s one of the 87 who could’ve used their  formidable leverage as a third of the Democratic caucus on behalf of single payer. Instead  she managed to join with the GOP to gut Alan Grayson’s bill limiting bonuses for TARP recipients.  And  when the New York Times reported that the drug companies got 42 members of Congress to insert language in the Congressional Record on their behalf, Yvette Clarke’s name was on the list.

Lobbyists win when it matters; small-dollar donors must settle for “symbolic” victories when it doesn’t. And as long as people settle for this kind of “only there when it doesn’t count” attitude from progressives, that’s what we’ll get.

There’s no need for “60 votes” any more to change this desperately unpopular bill.   If they can pass it now, they can change it now. If not, Yvette Clarke should keep at least one of the promises she’s made to progressives and vote “no.”

What you can do:

  • Sign the petition to House progressives, telling them to keep their pledge and vote “no”
  • Fax Clarke’s office by using a free fax service like FaxZero and GotFreeFax.  DC Fax: (202) 226-0112, NY Fax: (718) 287-1223.
  • Use our Letter to the Editor tool to let media outlets in her district know that there’s quite a bit of video available to counter what she believes her constituents want, and what her office is saying they want.
  • Leave a message for Clarke on her Facebook “just fans” wall

Find more information about Yvette Clarke on her FDL Scorecard Page.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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