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Boehner plays coy, will attend; Pelosi may not have the votes.

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John McCain on Menu at Health Care Summit

Boehner plays coy, will attend; Pelosi may not have the votes.

Senate Republicans announced their lineup to participate in the White House health care summit on Thursday, helping to breathe life into the Democrats’ failed government takeover of health care.  The list includes the Republican leadership, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).  Top Republicans on the relevant health and finance committees, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) will participate along with the Senate’s only two medical doctors, Sens. Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Okla.) and John Barrasso, M.D. (R-Wyo.).

Also making the cut is the senator with the most experience consorting with liberal Democrats in order to create disastrous legislation, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

As of deadline, House Republicans had not officially accepted the White House invitation and still had not received any response to questions posed about the summit in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“We haven’t officially accepted the invitation yet,” Republican leader John Boehner told his caucus meeting yesterday, a source with knowledge of the meeting told HUMAN EVENTS.  “I’m still waiting on a response to the questions Eric [Cantor] and I sent to Rahm two weeks ago.  But we are putting a team together, and our intention is to participate.  It’s a team that won’t be bashful about standing up to the president and standing our ground.”

Boehner also told members, according to our source, that he thought Democrats were attempting to bait them into boycotting.  Boehner told members behind closed doors that they shouldn’t let the White House have a six-hour taxpayer-funded infomercial on Obamacare.  “We need to show up,” Boehner said.  “We need to crash the party.”

Boehner will go, along with Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va) and others. 

Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) took a strong public stand against Republicans attending the summit yesterday, posting on our sister site RedState.com a statement comparing the summit to the huckster ShamWow! ads.

“Designed to obfuscate this truth and devoid of any attempt to establish a shared, bi-partisan principle for reform, the Obama Administration’s summit constitutes a ShamWoW! infomercial for incrementally socialized medicine that threatens Americans’ health care; imposes double taxation on most Americans who are responsibly trying to save for their future during this painful recession; devolves private health insurance companies into government-dictated utilities; and further erodes the public’s waning faith that their government institutions are truly representative,” McCotter said.  “Consequently, with due respect for the President and ultimate respect for the American people, the Republican leadership has no choice. It must NOT accept the administration’s disingenuous summit invitation to ‘negotiate.’”

Completely Unofficial Health Care Whip Count

The House passed its version of government-run health care by a vote of 220-215 on November 7 of last year but since that vote the status of four of the “yes” member votes have changed drastically.  Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) died and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) retired in January, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) says he’s now a “no” vote and Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hi.) retires this week.

That reasonably reflects that the House vote would have been a 216-216 tie today.  A tie does not pass a bill and, unlike the Senate where the Vice President holds the tie-breaking vote in his capacity as President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House votes along with everyone else in the voting.  There is no tie-breaking vote from the chair.

Pelosi now must somehow convince, threaten or cajole House Democrats who initially voted against the highly-unpopular government takeover of health care into voting in favor of it.  (Try explaining that one back home.)  After an unexpected week at home in their districts during the D.C. blizzard, followed by the scheduled week off last week for the President’s Day break, it’s more likely that Democrats from conservative districts who voted in favor of the House bill are looking for a way to switch their vote “yes” vote to “no” this time around.  November looms large.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) released a statement yesterday saying he’s one of those “yes” votes who can’t back the Senate bill or the Obama proposal “compromise.”

“Unfortunately, the President’s proposal encompasses the Senate language allowing public funding of abortion,” Stupak said. “The Senate language is a significant departure from current law and is unacceptable.”

Stupak was the Democrat co-sponsor of the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the House-passed health care bill that would keep the current ban on federal funding of abortion in place.  The amendment passed in the House by a vote of 240-194 last November with 64 Democrats voting in favor.

The sheer cost of the bill coupled with a void in cost containment also creates problems for those Democrats still posing as fiscal conservatives.  Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) told Fox News yesterday that cost factors were behind his voting against the House bill the first go around.

“One of the reasons I voted against it is the lack of cost containment reforming the health care delivery system to bring down the cost of health care instead of just transferring the decision on who pays for health care to somebody else,” Altmire (D-Pa.) said.  “There’s a big difference in bringing down the cost in the health care system and just finding somebody else to pay for it.”

“Every member of the House that votes on this bill has to go back to their constituents and explain why they voted the way that they did,” Altmire added.  “Unless I see a better effort to restrain the skyrocketing cost of health care, I just don’t know where those votes are going to come from.”

Written By

Connie Hair writes a weekly column for HUMAN EVENTS. She is a former speechwriter for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

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