Why the House Democrats are about 100 votes short

Michael Barone
Washington Examiner
2/13/2010

My colleague Mark Tapscott cites an anonymous quote by a House Democratic leader from a Politico story on why the House Democratic leadership can’t muster the votes needed to pass the Senate health care bill [“Is Pelosi now 100 votes short on Obamacare?”]. “‘You just need to twist enough arms to pass the Senate bill.’ You can twist arms if you’ve got a handful of them to twist. You can’t twist over 100 arms. There needs to be some reality check there.” Mark takes that as an indication that House Democrats are short 100 votes of passing the Senate bill.

Clever liberals in the blogosphere are still urging House Democrats to pass the Senate health care bill, with the Senate then making changes through the reconciliation process requiring only 51 votes and the Senate going along. Sounds like a clever idea. But as my Examiner colleague Mark Tapscott writes, an anonymous quote from a House Democratic leader suggests that they are 100 votes short of passing the Senate bill. I wouldn’t take that 100 votes as a precise number, but as an approximation.

Why are House Democratic leaders having such trouble getting the 217 votes needed for a majority (because there are vacancies now in two Democratic-held seats)? Look at it this way. Imagine you’re a Democratic congressman from a not entirely safe district. The leadership comes to you and says, We’d like you to vote for the Senate bill. Oh, and by the way, we can’t change a word in it. You’ve got to vote for the Cornhusker Hustle and the Louisiana Purchase and all that other garbage.

Barone’s article continues at the Examiner.

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