Mike Stark was on Capitol Hill for us yesterday and he interviewed about 15 members of Congress, asking them on video if they’d take the Pledge. They were mostly non-committal, seemed really uncomfortable that anyone would be asking this question and really didn’t want to be bothered.  The one bright spot was Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, who  gave — without question — the strongest statement that any member of Congress has given about the principles he is committed to on health care:

My name Emanuel Cleaver.  I represent the 5th Congressional District of Missouri.  I have said from the very beginning and I will say even to the end that I will not support any health care program that does not have a very strong public option.  If there is no way to guarantee from the very beginning that every American will have access  to adequate insurance coverage, that I will not support it.

The individuals who support this program will do it only if they have bargaining power and accountability to Congress and to the people of this country and  particularly for me, Missouri’s 5th Congressional District.

Health care should be available to everyone without limitation, and I think that those of us in the Progressive Caucus — and frankly, I’m the Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus — and we have not taken an official vote on it, but I can tell you now that this is the direction we are moving in.   We are going to support only those plans with the public option that would have some accessibility for every American to have quality health care. 

That is just awesome.  No equivocation, no back doors, no "I have to see the bill first," no weasel words.  At a time when progressives should be standing up and taking charge of the health care debate, Emanuel Cleaver does just that.

We’ve started an Act Blue page for members of Congress who have taken the pledge.  Right now, on the list are Raul Grijalva, Keith Elison, Lynn Woolsey, Jerrold Nadler, Rush Holt, Maxine Waters, Phil Hare and Cleaver.  We hope there will soon be many more.

I’m headed over there right now myself to donate $100 to Emanuel Cleaver for being brave enough enough to say what every single other Democrat should be saying right now.  I hope you’ll join me.