Trumka: AFL Will Look Closely At Lynch’s Health Care Vote When It’s Time To Make Endorsements

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Earlier this evening, outside the House chamber, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) told AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka that he will oppose the health care bill tonight, despite direct pressure from Trumka that he vote for it. Trumka told me in an interview just afterwards that the vote won’t be forgotten.

“I told him how important the bill was,” Trumka said. “I started off by saying, ‘you agree with me that the status quo is unacceptable.’ Everybody has to agree with that because this system is broken.”

In response, Lynch told Trumka he won’t be changing his mind. “He said he was not going to vote for the bill,” Trumka said. That may come back to haunt him, according to Trumka.“I’m not going to threaten people over anything–I don’t believe in doing that,” Trumka told me, before describing one potential repercussion for Lynch. “[T]hat’ll be part of what we look at when endorsements comes. This will be a big one. This will have more weight than a lot of the other little ones.”

I asked whether members like Lynch, whose votes aren’t strictly needed to pass reform would be given special dispensation, now that final passage is all but assured. No way, Trumka said. “Doing what’s right doesn’t get conditioned on anything.”

Trumka said that the health care bill is historic in its own right, and that after the Senate upholds its end of the bargain by passing the reconciliation bill, AFL will put its efforts into securing financial regulatory reform.

“I can’t wait for Republicans to stand with the banks against financial regulation and reform, or with the CEOs, who just gave themselves $145 billion in bonuses,” Trumka said. “I can’t wait for that to happen.”

Late Update: Later this evening, Christina caught up with Lynch off the House floor during a series of votes.

He said he is “still a no” and that leadership is not pressuring him to change his mind. He said they have the number of votes they need. She asked him about pressure from Trumka and others, and about threats he’d be primaried in Massachusetts.

“This is a democracy and they are certainly entitled to do that,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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