Sunday, November 8, 2009

Health Care Passage Unlikely - With or Without Stupak Intact

There was much jubilation on the floor of the House Saturday night as the roll call vote in favor of the House health care reform bill hit the required 218 Yeas. But as the roll call continued and the Yea column only racked up two more votes, supporters and opponents of the bill should have realized that ultimately, the measure will likely fail. A post-vote analysis of who voted how shows that the three vote margin in favor is in serious jeopardy.

Thirty-nine Democrats voted against and one Republican voted in favor of the health care reform bill last night, yielding the three vote margin. That’s probably the best possible outcome for the bill. When and if the Senate votes out a bill and it is reconciled to the House bill, the House will vote again and the three vote margin could easily disappear.

Why?

The New York Times posted a helpful chart on the 39 Democrats who voted against the bill. It found, in short:

An overwhelming majority of the Democratic lawmakers who opposed the bill — 31 of the 39 — represent districts that were won by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, in the 2008 presidential election, and a third of them were freshmen. Nearly all of the fourteen freshmen Democrats who voted “no” represent districts that were previously Republican and are considered vulnerable in 2010.

But the Times’ chart missed one key fact – Of the 39 Democrats who voted against the bill, 23 voted “aye” on the successful, pro-life Stupak Amendment. That’s 23 Democrats opposed to the bill even it it contains pro-life protections. Sixteen Democrats voted “nay” on both the Stupak Amendment and the final bill – meaning they have non-abortion related objections to the House version. The Democratic pro-choice caucus voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill – deferring to leadership and hoping the Stupak Amendment will be stripped after Senate passage and reconciliation.

When the House again votes after reconciliation, either the Stupak Amendment will remain intact or it will have been stripped.

If Stupak remains intact, the best possible outcome for passage in the House is a repeat of last night’s vote, 220-215. But how likely is it that Lynn Woolsey, Jerrold Nadler, Louise Slaughter, Rosa DeLauro and those other Democrats whose first loyalty is to the sacrament of abortion will vote in favor of a final bill that is opposed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL. It only takes three defectors from the pro-choice caucus to kill the final bill in the House.

If Stupak is stripped, chances for final passage in the House are even worse. The sole Republican to vote for passage last night, Ahn “Joseph” Cao, will almost certainly oppose the bill. There were 41 Democrats last night who voted “aye” on both the Stupak Amendment and for passage of the bill. If the Stupak language is stripped, and only two of those 41 change their vote, the bill is dead.

There is only one possibility for final passage, and that is for the Senate and reconciliation committee to address the non-abortion related concerns of Blue Dog Democrats and to keep Stupak intact. That is the only way to keep Rep. Cao and the pro-life Democrats on board. And it’s also the only way to gain enough of those 39 Democrat “nays” from last night to offset defections from the pro-choice caucus.

Welcome Chris Stigall listeners! (This post was read on KCMO 710 this morning)

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