House Democrats' 'no' votes are piling up as healthcare reform moves forward

More than two dozen Democrats are expected to vote against the healthcare reform bill that will hit the House floor in the coming weeks.

At least 25 House Democrats will reject the healthcare reform legislation, according to a survey by The Hill, a review of other media reports and interviews with lawmakers, aides and lobbyists. Dozens of House Democrats are undecided or won't comment on their position on the measure.

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The 25 opposed include firm "no" votes and members who are likely "no" votes. Most Democrats on The Hill's whip list are definitely going to vote no, but others, such as Reps. Lincoln Davis (Tenn.) and Harry Teague (N.M.), could vote yes.

However, The Hill has not yet put Democrats who are insisting on Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-Mich.) language on abortion in the "no" category. Stupak has said there are 12 Democrats who supported the House bill in November who will vote no unless his measure blocking federal funding of abortions is melded into the final bill.

If leadership doesn't make changes to the abortion language and Stupak does indeed have 12 votes in his pocket, it will be very difficult to pass a bill. Yet if they do change the provisions, supporters of abortion rights in the House will threaten to vote no.

The Hill's list does not include members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who are threatening to vote no unless changes are made to the bill's immigration-related provisions. Most on Capitol Hill believe that language will not be changed and that most members of the CHC will still back the final measure.

With all Republicans expected to reject the bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) needs to minimize defections. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the House healthcare bill that passed 220-215 last November.

But the landscape has shifted a bit since last year with Rep. Parker Griffith's (R-Ala.) decision to leave the Democratic Party and four House vacancies. Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.), who backed the bill last time, will vote no unless the final bill contains changes on abortion-related provisions.

Assuming every member votes, Democratic leaders could not afford more than 37 defectors, which would lead to a 216-215 tally.

In an interview this week with Bloomberg and PBS host Charlie Rose, Pelosi indicated she has the votes to pass a bill. However, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on MSNBC Tuesday that he hasn't started to whip the vote yet.

The White House wants the House to vote by next week, but Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that meeting the White House deadline is highly unlikely. House leaders, including Hoyer, have publicly expressed their displeasure with the Obama administration for setting the March 18 deadline.


The House is expected to adjourn for two weeks on March 26. Hoyer indicated passing a bill by then would be difficult.

Pelosi's push for votes appears to have started. The Speaker was seen in a long conversation with Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) on the House floor Wednesday night. Perriello, who voted for the House healthcare bill last fall, is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the midterm elections.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is more bullish, predicting that a final bill will be on President Barack Obama's desk by the end of the month.

Height Analytics, an investment research firm, recently indicated that House Democrats are nine votes short on healthcare reform. In a report to investors last week, the firm stated, "Our analysis and current House whip count indicate that House leadership is nine votes [shy] of the 216 needed ..."

The Height Analytics report anticipates that Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) and Brian Baird (D-Wash.), who both voted no last fall, will support the legislation this year. During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend, Altmire said he has an "open mind" on the bill.

The Hill's whip count can be accessed here.

Lauren Victoria Burke contributed to this article.


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