By Molly K. Hooper - 07/27/09 06:01 PM EDT
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) seemed confident Monday that very few, if
any, Republicans would cross the aisle to vote for a Democratic
healthcare reform bill.
Sources with GOP Whip Eric Cantor’s (Va.) office noted that a number of “the eight,” as GOP leaders privately refer to rank-and-file members who voted for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) cap-and-trade bill last month, have indicated that they are eager to vote against the healthcare measure.
Boehner said that “enough” of the eight that he’s talked to tell him they “are adamantly opposed to the Democrat proposal on the grounds of the cost, this giant bureaucracy and the government getting in the way of the relationship between the doctor and the patient.”
Boehner says that Democratic leaders have not tried to talk to
Republicans about healthcare but that members within his ranks have
sought out Blue Dogs. Boehner would not name names, however.
With recess rapidly approaching, Boehner says that House Democratic leaders “have their hands full” as they try to quell intra-party squabbling and produce a healthcare reform bill that satisfies at least 218 members of their caucus.
On Monday the leader took a jab at his Democratic counterparts for trying to push through a trillion-dollar overhaul of the healthcare system when so many in the 256-member majority caucus are divided.
“That’s why they are going to spend five hours trying to help their members understand it tonight; that ought to tell you enough right there of just how large and bureaucratic and government-centered their plan is. This makes the American people very nervous," Boehner told reporters earlier in the afternoon.
The minority leader said that Republicans continue to work on writing a formal alternative bill of their own but suggested they would wait and see whether the Democrats can come up with a measure that the House will vote on before the minority submits its bill.
"There's been no outreach from the Democrat side to House Republican leaders throughout this process, including after we sent a letter down to the White House outlining our ideas about how to proceed with healthcare reform," Boehner said.
House Republican leaders, however, have been preparing for the debate on healthcare for the past seven months, leadership aides say.
The whip's office has inundated members and staffers with white documents, briefings, listening sessions and one-on-one meetings to educate the 178-member-large minority on the perils of the Democratic plan and positives in its plan.
Cantor, who has met weekly with nearly a quarter of his conference — members of his whip organization — has left nothing to chance. Leadership aides point out that they've held numerous sessions to educate the GOP whip team to make sure they are "knowledgeable on the intricacies of the Democrat proposal and Republican principles."
Members of the whip team must be prepared to "educate" the rank and file on all aspects of the healthcare reform proposals. Whip meetings have included Dr. David Gratzer, with the Manhattan Institute, and Newt Gingrich.