What Massa's exit means for health reform

The complicated and rapidly changing healthcare reform math moved again Friday with the news that Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) is leaving his seat within days.

With Massa gone, the House will have 431 members, meaning a majority is just 216 not the 218 usually required. Because Massa opposed the House-passed healthcare reform bill and hadn't given any hints that he would change his vote when the final version comes up in the next few weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could have caught a break.

However, Democrats could have persuaded the retiring Massa to vote yes. Massa won't be in the House for the big vote, which is expected in mid-March. Pelosi needs to convert some "no" votes to "yes" because Rep. Bart Stupak (Mich.) and other anti-abortion rights Democrats who supported the House bill are expected to vote no later this month.

Regardless, Massa's exit changes the denominator. For two days this week, the goal had gone down to 216 because Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), who is running for governor, said he was resigning. But Deal quickly reversed his decision, citing his desire to help kill the healthcare bill and raising the threshold back to 217. Massa, who is leaving Congress amid an ethics investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, changed it back.

This post was updated on March 6 at 11:01 a.m.


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