Centrist Dem Kissell a "no" vote on healthcare repeal

Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), one of 34 House Democrats who voted against healthcare last year, will not vote in favor of repealing the law when the new Republican majority brings it up for a vote next week. 

"I am not going to vote to repeal it," Kissell told The Hill, adding that despite his opposition to the measure, Democrats "put a lot of energy into this bill."

Kissell said he was pleased the new majority was bringing a repeal vote to the floor, but said a long and drawn out fight over healthcare will only serve to distract from what should be the top priority of the new Congress — the economy and jobs.

"Get it on the floor, let everybody vote, and then let's focus on the economy and get people back to work, because that's what the American people want us to do," he said.

Kissell was also one of 19 Democrats who voted against Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Wednesday. He voted for fellow North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler (D). 

"After the election, I felt that we as a party needed to look at what happened and seek out new leadership," Kissell said. "This was an opportunity to vote for someone else and demonstrate my belief that we need to move in a new direction."

Kissell is the fifth House Democrat who voted against healthcare who has pledged to not vote in favor of a full repeal. Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Shuler have all told The Hill they will not vote for repeal.

Only 13 of the 34 Democrats who voted against healthcare reform were reelected in the midterms, and at least three of those — Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Ben Chandler (Ky.) — survived close races and are likely targets in 2012. McIntyre has previously expressed his support for full repeal of the law.

Other Democrats who voted "no" include Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John Barrow (Ga.), Tim Holden (Pa.) and Mike Ross (Ark.).