Health Care Bill Victory For Pelosi
Roll Call reports that "no vote came easy" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the health bill. "The stories of the late-breaking votes illustrate just how tight the margin was. Even after the deal, the Democratic whip effort never stopped. Right up until the final vote, members of the leadership team continued to make runs at Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) - a hard 'no' - Tanner, Berry and others as Pelosi tried to run up the score a bit. Pelosi had personally courted nearly every wavering Democrat over a period of months ... and the stakes could not have been higher with the fate of the party's top priority, her Speakership and Obama's presidency all hanging in the balance" (Newmyer and Dennis, 3/23).
Boston Globe: Pelosi "could emerge from the yearlong struggle among the most powerful speakers in history."
"Those close to Pelosi say she considers health care reform a moral imperative that transcends political ambitions and election cycles. But she invoked those baser ambitions, too..." She courted each vote uniquely. "On the plane from her home near San Francisco back to Washington, Pelosi began making calls to the 68 Democrats said to be wavering on the bill. With others, she delegated. A knowledgeable Democratic official said that Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, asked the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame and frequent appointee to presidential commissions, to call Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana on behalf of the legislation. In the end, Donnelly voted yes" (Kellman, 3/22).
The Hill: "Pelosi and her whip operation wanted to have a margin for error, so while the media focused on the magic number of 216 votes needed for passage, the Speaker was gunning for 217 or higher. If the legislation passed by only one vote, the GOP would have been armed with more ammunition to go after politically vulnerable Democrats this fall who backed the controversial legislation" (Hooper, 3/22).
The Los Angeles Times: "But she remains one of the nation's most polarizing figures, and her drive to pass a bill -- without the support of a single Republican -- has heightened partisan tensions in the Capitol." Some say her future depends on how she continues forward from the victory on the health care bill. "While the House Republican campaign committee on Monday lashed out against 'Pelosi's government takeover of healthcare' in a fundraising appeal, Democrats suggested her win could strengthen her hand. Whether her efforts will strengthen her hand on other Democratic priorities, such as immigration, climate change and jobs legislation, is uncertain given the intense partisanship in Congress" (Simon and Fiore, 3/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.