Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., a Congressional Black Congress member and gubernatorial candidate, has long been a staunch opponent of President Barack Obama’s transcendent health insurance reform, which will increase Americans’ access to health care.
One day after the bill passed a narrow 219-212 victory in the House, Davis released a statement slamming the president’s health care reform plan and supporting his decision to vote against it.
“I believe the no vote I cast tonight was the right one and a significant number of other Democrats joined me in casting that no vote,” Davis said. “Going forward, I hope for the good of our country that this legislation ends up working and that my reservations are proved wrong. I joined many other Americans in hoping that Congress can move past this enormously divisive debate and get on with the business of strengthening our economy."
The Alabama representative has been mired in controversy after announcing his decision to run for governor in February 2009, when some constituents argued that Davis was using a “no” vote as a political pawn in his gubernatorial campaign. The 42-year-old Harvard law graduate has denied these claims.
In a March 18 interview with FOX6 News, Davis, the only Congressional Black Congress (CBC) member to eschew Obama’s health care legislation, said his rejection of the plan had nothing to do with his own political campaign.
“I'd vote the same way and it's a common refrain in politics," Davis said. "When we disagree with someone we question their motives and we say they really don't mean it because, God forbid, how dare they disagree with what we think. But the left and right are guilty of doing that. If you look at my record over the last seven years in Congress, I've consistently been one of the most moderate Democratic members of Congress.”
But political analyst and University of Maryland professor emeritus Ron Walters said Davis’ “no” vote is “plain and simple politics.”
“He’s running for governor in a conservative state that is racially sensitive. Whether or not this (health care reform) is going to help his [constituents] is beside the point,” Walters said.
Despite claims that Davis is asserting his stance as a moderate Democrat only to appease the statewide electorate in his bid for governor, the Alabama native said this is not the first time he’s diverged from the Democratic consensus.
“It's not new for me to be someone who says that I think for myself, I make independent judgments, and sometimes that puts me in the political center and not on the left or right," he told FOX6.
For other constituents, opposition to the bill may be motivated by factors other than political gain. With no Republican support and numerous Democrats rejecting the bill, some political pundits believe congressional leaders are making decisions based on their own biases.
“A lot of this opposition we have to call it what it is—it’s racially motivated,” Walters added. “This health care bill is going to be good for a lot of Republican districts.”
In Maryland, only Roscoe Bartlett (R) and Frank Kravotil Jr. (D) voted against the health care measure.
Other congressmen changed their vote days before the House passed the historic health bill.
While Congressman Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., supported the Senate version of the bill, which passed the House on Sunday, he voted against the Reconciliation Act, an add-on to the bill.
Rep. Daniel Lipinkski, D-Ill., voted against the Senate bill, claiming it would fund abortion and raise the deficit, but supported the Reconciliation Act. Meanwhile, Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch also voted against Senate bill but supported the Reconciliation measure.