The California Labor Federation, the largest state labor federation in the country, gave its unconditional support to the bill now before the House of Representatives extending affordable quality health care to the uninsured, including a strong public option.

Art Pulaski, the federation’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer, said immediately after America’s Affordable Health Choices Act was introduced before the House, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act marks an important first step to fixing our nation’s broken health care system.”

The labor leader added that the “House plan achieves many of the goals we’ve fought for in California, and is in line with President Obama’s vision for a comprehensive fix.” With the backing of the labor federation and a wide cross section of the state’s social movements, the California state legislature passed a single payer measure twice only to be vetoed by the Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The federation’s support is significant in that it views the national bill as the best current option for extending “quality,” affordable health care to the “6 million uninsured Californians and millions more in our state who are underinsured or paying too much for coverage.”

The federation’s position could well become a factor in winning over many of those criticizing the president’s plan from the right and the left of the political spectrum.

The involvement of its affiliates and local labor councils will go a long way in swaying Democratic Blue Dog members of the California congressional delegation now opposing or ambivalent about the bill. Likewise, with the state Republican congressional members who are expected to face contested races in the 2010 midterm elections.

The federation’s backing of the House bill will be helpful in influencing the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators, especially the more conservative Senator Dianne Feinstein, to support a strong public option component as the Senate committees grapple with bringing to the floor that body’s version of health care reform.

That the federation, which was instrumental in getting single payer passed through the state legislature, is backing the House version will be a factor in winning those who criticize the President’s plan for not being radical enough.