A 'lot' of Blue Dogs may flip to vote for Senate health bill, says member

Centrist, Blue Dog Democrats are likely to favor the Senate's healthcare bill if it comes up for a vote, one of their members said Wednesday.

Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), a Blue Dog who voted against the House's healthcare bill in November, said that he and many other centrist Democrats would flip their votes to support the Senate bill if it came up for a vote in the House.

"I think the Senate bill is stronger and I think there's a chance that when the Senate bill comes over to the House, if we can keep some of those provisions for cost containment in the bill, bringing down the deficit, and bringing down healthcare costs, there's a good chance a lot of conservative Democrats who voted against it in the House will support the Senate bill as it comes out of conference," Altmire said during an appearance Tuesday evening on the Fox Business Network.

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39 Democratic lawmakers voted against the House bill, which passed by a relatively narrow 220-215 vote. If Blue Dogs flip to support the latest iteration of the bill, it could pad Democrats' vote totals, especially as leaders wrangle with abortion rights supporters and opponents' dissatisfaction with the Senate bill's language on abortion.

Altmire, a second-term lawmaker from Western Pennsylvania, said that cost containment -- and not the controversial public option -- was his sticking point in the health debate, and that the Senate bill does a better job of addressing health costs.

"That wasn't my sticking point -- I think both sides greatly overstated the impact that the public option was going to have," he said. "The House bill was very weak on cost containment and I think the Senate bill is much stronger, and I'm going to take a favorable look at it."