Democrats Making Final Push For Health Reform Votes
The Associated Press: As "Democratic leaders make a desperate scramble for votes," President Obama "is wooing freshman Democrats in the Oval Office, holding at least two one-on-one sessions in the past few days that never appeared on his official schedule, according to aides to two lawmakers invited, Reps. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., and Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla.," who both voted no on a House health reform measure last year. "Another lawmaker who opposed the legislation last year, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, flew with Obama on Air Force One to an Obama appearance in Kucinich's district Monday. Kucinich, (who) was against the bill because he wants a larger government role in health care, also is not ruling out voting 'yes' this time" (Werner, 3/16).
Roll Call: "A Democratic official said to expect Obama to come to the Hill later this week, likely just before the House moves to vote. In the meantime, the official said, Obama likely will be calling and meeting one-on-one with Democratic fence-sitters about how to vote." Roll Call reports that the Democrats' "marketing campaign is reaching full tilt even before leaders unveil the final package" (Newmyer and Dennis, 3/16).
NPR: "To pass the health care overhaul, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has to persuade at least 216 of her 253-member caucus to support the version of health care legislation that the Senate approved last December. Among her formidable challenges: convincing recalcitrant House Democrats who find aspects of the Senate bill unpalatable that a subsequent smaller, so-called fix-it bill - known as reconciliation - will ultimately pass both chambers with at least some of their desired changes." Some vote counters say Pelosi is still about a dozen votes short. Pelosi is also trying to woo anti-abortion Democrats who don't think the Senate language on restrictions for federal funding of abortions goes far enough. "But though Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, who fashioned the amendment, has said that he'll be a 'no' vote this week, it appears that there are a handful of other Stupak amendment supporters who are moving to the 'yes' category" (Halloran, 3/15).
PBS NewsHour: "Democrats hold 252 seats in the House, so if no Republicans vote for the bill -- which seems likely -- Pelosi can afford to lose only 36 votes. ... Republicans vowed to do what they could to stop the legislation. 'We're going to do everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass a bill,' House Minority Leader John Boehner said" (Winerman, 3/15).
CongressDaily has detailed maps of how "the absence of anti-abortion language favored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and blowback from concerned seniors could cost Democrats" some of the votes they need (3/16).
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that "Democratic leaders are using a mixture of pressure and persuasion to get Hispanic Democrats in the 'yes' column when it comes to the vote on healthcare. Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) members face a tough choice in how to vote on a healthcare bill that will benefit their constituents but contains tough provisions on illegal immigrants." CHC members don't like provisions in the Senate bill that would bar illegal immigrants from using their own money to purchase health insurance in health insurance exchanges" (Allen 3/15).
Pelosi, at a news conference Monday, said that "we will have the votes" by the time health reform comes to the House floor, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "Democrats do not yet have the votes in hand and Pelosi will not call a vote until they do. Liberal lawmakers have deep reservations about the Senate bill, and fights over abortion and immigration have yet to be resolved. Pelosi laid down the law to wavering Democrats who are threatening to bolt. 'It's not about abortion, it's not about immigration,' she said. 'The only reason, therefore, to oppose the bill is that you do not support health care reform'" (Lochhead, 3/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.