By Carole on Feb 28, 2010
There's been much speculation lately on the fate of Obamacare in the US Senate. The ins and outs of reconciliation, once a little known technicality in the rules of that legislative body, are now common knowledge to political junkies of all ideologies. But the actual death bed of the president's unpopular and obscenely expensive plan will most likely be the US House of Representatives.
Even if Democrats have the 51 votes they need in the Senate and the Republicans decide against proposing a flood of amendments that could indefinitely stall the reconciliation bill, Mr. Obama and his accomplices would still have to get the votes needed to pass Obamacare in the House.
In November, the House passed its version of health care reform with just two votes to spare; prevailing 220-215 with the help of Representative Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-Louisiana) who has said he will not back it again. (source) And Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) won't be able to count on all of her fellow Democrats this time around either.
Two major changes that will affect this round of voting:
The first is the radical change in the political climate since November of 2009. While some Democrats who claim to be fiscally conservative and who represent traditionally Republican districts were somehow able to ignore the messages sent by voters in New Jersey and Virginia, they cannot ignore the one sent from Massachusetts just last month. The election of Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) clearly demonstrated what is likely to happen to the careers of elected officials who support Obamacare despite the wishes of their constituents.
The second major difference between November's vote on health care reform and the next one in the House is that the bill passed last year included the Stupak Amendment. Of the 219 Democrats who voted 'yes' last time, 40 did so only because the bill contained that amendment preventing taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions. Those 40 representatives will almost certainly switch their 'yes' votes to 'no' since the new version of the bill being pushed by President Obama would strip out the abortion restrictions in favor of Senate language that many consider unacceptable. (source)
Republican House Whip Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) recently outlined the House changes since that first health care bill passed and said he now believes there's no way to pass health care in the House with only Democratic votes. According to Mr. Cantor's count, Speaker Pelosi doesn't have more than maybe 202 votes; well short of the 217 needed to pass the second (and hopefully final) Obamacare bill. (source)
The last time President Obama and his cronies came up short on votes for his signature domestic issue, they started bribing Senators with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to get the votes they needed. The public is now wise to this tactic and Senators Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) and Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) have become examples to their legislative brethren of what happens to the political prospects of anyone who chooses Team Obama's arm twisting and bribes over the expressed wishes of their constituents.
UPDATE: Appearing on ABC's This Week this morning, Speaker Pelosi urged House Democrats to vote for Obamacare despite the wishes of their constitutents. "We're not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress," she said. "We're here to do the job for the American people." (source)
Consiering the perpetuation of her own political career is riding on the fading chance that this bill will pass, that's a rather hypocritical tactic for her to employ.
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