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Conyers Rips Rangel, Waxman for Backing Off Single Payer

John Conyers (D-Michigan) was not happy last night with his colleagues Charles Rangel (D-New York) and Henry Waxman (D-California).

Conyers is sponsor of the single payer bill (HR 676) in the House.

The bill has 79 co-sponsors.

Rangel and Waxman were co-sponsors last year.

But they are not co-sponsors this year.

Rangel, Waxman and George Miller (D-California) each chair committees that will be hearing health care reform proposals.

Only Miller is cooperating with Conyers - remaining a co-sponsor of HR 676 and holding hearings.

In fact, Miller's committee today held the first ever Congressional hearing on HR 676.

Conyers spoke last night on Capitol Hill at a dinner in honor of outgoing Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.

"There are three committees that have been designated to work on (health care) on the House side," Conyers said. "[They are headed by] three dear buddies of mine - Charlie Rangel, Henry Waxman and George Miller. Guess what? All of them were on single payer (HR 676)."

"Guess what? All of them got off except for George Miller of California. Not only did he not get off, he said - you want a hearing, you got a hearing."

"It's one thing to go down in defeat, which I don't plan to do by the way," Conyers said. "But it's another thing to say - we don't want to hear the most popular bill. I've got 79 co-sponsors. Seventy-nine men and women saying - let's get this thing on. We've got 300 to 400 unions. We've had three polls. The American people have spoken."

"And here I am in the most Democratically controlled legislature in my life. And they are saying - it's kind of too late because we have to get this thing through by the end of July. And we don't have time."

"Hey look -  I've worked on this too damn long to let anybody - I'm going to every Committee not just Miller's. Charlie Rangel - get ready for your pal to come to your Committee."

"Henry Waxman, my brilliant friend, open up your door. And then if you want to try to pull something that's okay.  But to tell me it's too late - I've got news for you. That means you really didn't know me all of these years."

"We're going to have HR 676 heard in every committee of the House of Representatives or my name ain't John Conyers."

"I don't mind losing a debate or losing the vote, but Jesus Christ don't tell me that my proposal is off the table before we start, without even a hearing," Conyers said.

"What kind of a Democratic congress is this?" he asked.

Conyers also gave the back of his hand to President Obama.

"I've finally persuaded my favorite president in life to - not put single payer on the table - but to at least let me in the room," Conyers said. "That was a great complement I suppose."

"How are you going to have a transformational health care program that has been vaunted and touted for so long if you take the most popular remedy for it off the table to begin the negotiations?" Conyers asked. "You won't get it."

"The reason is elementary Dear Watson," Conyers said. "The corporate health care people, the insurance people don't want to leave the room. And they are not leaving the room. And as long as they are there, you are going to have some sad version of the same crap you were supposed to be fixing in the first place."

(Listen to audio of Conyers' remarks here.)

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