With House Hurdle Cleared, Democrats Reflect On Health Bill Compromises
The Washington Post: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team won a hard-fought victory on Obama's most critical domestic policy agenda item by neutralizing the most potentially toxic political issue well in advance of the final vote, siding with centrists on their preferred version of the public option. She then publicly dared the progressive wing, with its strong commitment to establishing national health insurance, to take down the entire package because one piece was not to their liking." Only two of 60 progressives who vowed to vote against a bill without a public option to their liking did so (Reps. Kucinich and Massa) and Pelosi spent the last days winning moderates instead (Kane and Bacon, 11/9).
The Los Angeles Times: "In the fight to get the legislation through the House, Pelosi's impulse to tilt at windmills disappeared and her pragmatic heritage came to the fore. That's what enabled Pelosi to build a majority, one compromise at a time, including the pivotal deal with antiabortion Democrats." Democrats hold 258 seats in the House, but 49 are in districts where Republican John McCain won in 2008, setting the stage for vote shifting (Fiore and Simon, 11/9).
The Wall Street Journal reports on what the House Democratic leadership promised individual members in exchange for their votes: "For Rep. Dennis Cardoza, it was an assurance from (Pelosi) that the drought afflicting California's Central Valley would get high-level attention. For Rep. Michael Michaud, a liberal from Maine, it was personal coaxing from President Barack Obama Saturday morning. For Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, the lone Republican vote, it was multiple conversations with Obama administration officials, topped with new promises of support for his Katrina-ravaged New Orleans." Others were personally courted by President Obama but still voted no on the bill over several concerns (Weisman and Bendavid, 11/9).
In a separate story, the Los Angeles Times reports that though Pelosi may have won the House for now, the fight that looms with other lawmakers could still hold up health care reform. "What is more, the political climate has become more challenging for progressivism than it was when Obama's agenda for change was launched in his 2008 presidential campaign and ratified with his resounding election one year ago" (Hook, 11/9).
Roll Call: "For the moment, ebullient House Democrats savored a victory decades in the making." Still, tense moments were common Saturday on immigration, abortion and whipping for votes. In the end, the immigration issue didn't come up, the abortion amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak won support and the House gathered the votes (Dennis and Newmyer, 11/9).
But Republicans in the House are pledging to use the House vote as a political tool to change the balance of power. Politico reports that Republicans are readying their stab to take the seats of vulnerable Democrats. "The GOP, which voted nearly in lock step against the measure, began crowing about the demise of various other vulnerable members and seized on the moment as a milestone in the path back to a House majority" (Isenstadt, 11/9).
Kaiser Health News also tracked developments over the weekend, with summaries on Saturday's house vote, abortion compromise, key abortion vote and the President's visit to Capitol Hill as well as Sunday's coverage of the landmark vote and the Sunday talk shows.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.