There's a new caucus in Congress, everybody! On Thursday a group of over 60 Representatives launched the Medicare for All Caucus, which aims to raise awareness and understanding of the issue and to serve as a "clearinghouse of resources for members of Congress and their staff."
Seattle Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Minneapolis Rep. Keith Ellison, and Ann Arbor Rep. Debbie Dingell co-chair the organization, whose membership has climbed to 70 since the launch this morning. A spokesman for Rep. Jayapal called this number of initial members "unprecedented." Currently, 122 representatives cosponsor HR 676, the Medicare for All bill in the House, so the numbers may get even higher relatively soon.
"A big thing that this caucus does is it creates a platform to talk about these issues and to further advance the cause," Jayapal's spokesman said. "It’s not just about a singular bill—obviously that’s a big part of it—but it’s a platform for discussion among Members of Congress and private citizens impacted by the issues of health care. It’s to get the Democrats in a good place so they can thoughtfully and logically bring about this issue, if we’re able to win the house back."
The caucus does seem relatively large for being so new. According to congressional analyst Matthew E. Glassman, last year there were 800 informal member organizations listed with the Committee on House Administration. Of those, 300 were formal Congressional Member Organizations, aka caucuses. According to numbers from 703 of the informal member organizations, member sizes ranged from 1 to 294 with an average membership of 21.
The larger-than-average size might be due to the fact that Medicare for All is a pretty popular idea, even in places where Trump won in 2016. The Washington Post reports that "the concept 'Medicare for All' has majority support in 42 states," and a March poll from Lake Research Partners found that a majority of people (54%) in 30 swing districts "strongly support" 'Medicare for All.'"
That leaves only one question for the 123 Democrats who haven't yet joined the club: what's your excuse?