It may just be swaggering optimism, but conservative Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) tells HUMAN EVENTS that he thinks President Bush’s new prescription drug entitlement could fail to pass the U.S. House tonight.
“They don’t have the votes,” claimed Pence, referring to the House GOP leadership.
Contrary to almost everyone’s expectations, Pence predicted at least a very close finish in tonight’s vote. He said that as few as twenty conservative Republicans could turn the tide and sink White House hopes of buying the elderly vote in 2004 with a massive new federal program.
Democrats had been expected to give more support to President Bush’s proposal, especially after its well-publicized endorsement from Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.).
But few House Democrats have been willing to speak in its favor after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) denounced the bill as “wrong, wrong, wrong for America’s seniors” last week in an appearance with other Democrats. “I am here to pledge to you that the Democrats are going to fight to defeat this Republican bill,” she said.
Pelosi ascended to the head of her caucus after liberals complained that congressional Democrats did not do enough to oppose the popular President Bush. She is quoted in today’s Los Angeles Times saying that “Democrats will not give the Republicans a victory.”
Pence said he expected no more than ten Democrats to support the Bush plan. Notably Rep. Colin Peterson (D.-Minn.) was the only House Democrat to appear at a rally for the GOP drug bill Thursday afternoon.
President Bush met personally with Pence and a group of about 20 conservatives yesterday to sell them on the plan, but Pence told HUMAN EVENTS that he is not sold on the program.
“It’s a bridge too far for me,” he said. “To have a Republican majority create a new entitlement is unacceptable.”