Democrats continue to take heavy fire over their apparent refusal to honor eight separate promises made by then candidate Barack Obama to open health care negotiations in Congress to C-SPAN cameras.
The Democrats’ self-inflicted wounds run deep as two Senate Dems announced they will not seek re-election in November. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota both called it quits yesterday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) still seriously trailing Republican challengers. Even Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are having troubles in their determinedly liberal states.
Despite the radical policies setting Democrats on a collision course with voters in less than 10 months (Election Day 2010 is November 2), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appears determined to lead her beleaguered party over the political cliff by forging ahead on the highly-unpopular healthcare bill.
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) yesterday issued a memo (pdf) detailing the current prospects for passage of another health care bill in the House.
Currently the Democrats enjoy a 257-178 majority since Rep. Parker Griffith’s (R-Ala.) jump from D to R. It requires a simple 218 vote majority to pass the legislation. H.R. 3962, the prior version of the House health care bill, passed by a vote of 220-215.
One Republican voted in favor of the bill, Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana, and 39 Democrats voting against: John Adler (N.J.), Jason Altmire (Penn.), Brian Baird (Wash.), John Barrow (Ga.), John Boccieri (Ohio), Dan Boren (Okla.), Rick Boucher (Va.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), Bobby Bright (Ala.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Artur Davis (Ala.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), Chet Edwards (Tex.), Bart Gordon (Tenn.), Parker Griffith (Ala.), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.), Tim Holden (Penn.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Frank Kratovil (Md.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Betsy Markey (Colo.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Eric Massa (N.Y.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Michael McMahon (N.Y.), Charlie Melancon (La.), Walt Minnick (Idaho), Scott Murphy (N.Y.), Glenn Nye (Va.), Colin Peterson (Minn.), Mike Ross (Ark.), Heath Shuler (N.C.), Ike Skelton (Mo.), John Tanner (Tenn.), Gene Taylor (Miss.), Harry Teague (N.M.).
Should these “no” votes against the bill hold, Republicans would only need to gain three more to defeat a bill in the House.
Cantor and his whip team have identified 37 votes that could be in play and offer three or more additional votes that, coupled with a Republican block vote, would defeat this health care bill boondoggle.
The Speaker can no longer wield the promise to members of her caucus to fix a particular members’ issue in conference. This is it. There would be no further changes to the bill after the backroom deals cut in this negotiation. That hard, cold fact makes things a bit tougher.
The House-passed bill included strong language banning the federal funding of abortion in the form of the Stupak-Pitts amendment. If that language is weakened by Pelosi behind closed doors, 11 additional votes of pro-life House Democrats could be in play: Jerry Costello (Ill.), Kathleen Dahlkemper (Penn.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Dale Kildee (Mich.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Jim Oberstar (Minn.), Bart Stupak (Mich.) and Charlie Wilson (Ohio).
Further, there are 18 Democrats with over 21 percent (some as high as 49 percent) of their district’s Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage — representing tens of thousands of votes in each district. This very popular program is gutted by bills passed by both chambers and is unlikely to fare any better when the two were merged.
These 18 Democrats are: Harry Mitchell (Ariz.), Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), Dennis Moore (Ks.), Jim Oberstar (Minn.), Daniel Maffei (N.Y.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Zach Space (Ohio), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Kathleen Dahlkemper (Penn.), Chris Carney (Penn.), Henry Cuellar (Tex.), Adam Smith (Wash.), Alan Mollohan (W.V.), Ron Kind (Wisc.) and Steve Kagen (Wisc.).
Cantor’s memo also covers the unfunded mandate placed on cash-strapped states in the form of vastly expanded Medicaid programs without the funding to facilitate this expansion. The states don’t have the money and neither does the federal government. But that doesn’t stop Democrat leadership from their drive to pass this disastrous bill.
The only state currently completely exempt from paying for this new mandate is Nebraska, facilitated in the Senate-passed bill by the now infamous “Cornhusker Kickback” included in the bill to garner the vote of Sen. Ben Nelson. Vermont, Massachusetts and Louisiana received partial funding in the cash for cloture deal. In the Senate version of the bill, the other 46 states foot the bill for the deals cut for these four states.
From the Cantor memo:
Thirty states have cut spending for K-12 education for 2010. Will Members from these states support a final bill that requires their state to potentially make even deeper cuts to education in order to fund more of the health care bill than is being asked of states like Nebraska?
Potential House vote switchers from states that, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are being forced to cut education funding but which will also be saddled with millions of dollars in new Medicaid costs are:
Arizona: Giffords, Gabrielle; Mitchell, Harry
California: Cardoza, Dennis; Schiff, Adam
Connecticut: Himes, James
Georgia: Bishop, Sanford
Illinois: Bean, Melissa; Costello, Jerry; Halvorson, Deborah; Lipinski, Daniel
Iowa: Boswell, Leonard
Kansas: Moore, Dennis
Maine: Michaud, Michael
Michigan: Kildee, Dale; Stupak, Bart
Minnesota: Oberstar, Jim
New York: Arcuri, Michael; Maffei, Daniel
North Carolina: Ethridge, Bob
Oregon: Schrader, Kurt
Pennsylvania: Carney, Chris; Dahlkemper, Kathleen; Kanjorski, Paul
Virginia: Connolly, Gerry; Perriello, Tom
Washington: Smith, Adam
West Virginia: Mollohan, Alan; Rahall, Nick
Wisconsin: Kagen, Steve; Kind, Ron
We have our work cut out for us, but this is do-able. It’s up to the American people to drive a stake through the heart of this bill. You have the information. You know what to do. Send this information everywhere and stay vigilant.