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Reminder: Liberals Not The Problem On Passing Health Care

People still have a problem being truthful about what’s stopping the House from passing a health care bill tomorrow. House liberals have brooked every compromise, made every harsh vote, lost virtually every big fight, and still backed the bill. Raul Grijalva, who just, um, a day ago talked about leaning no on the final passage, heard enough happy talk from Barack Obama to flip right back to support today. That was never, ever in doubt. They’ll accept the assurance from the President that he will sign the Senate bill and the reconciliation sidecar in tandem, and that’s that. They don’t need much convincing.

The hurdle to this approach remains Blue Dogs and the Stupak 12, and if the House doesn’t meet their deadline, that’s the reason, pure and simple. Diana DeGette may be confident that Bart Stupak and his anti-choicers can’t kill the bill, but he’s certainly confident that he does, to the extent that he’s proclaiming that House leaders “don’t have 10 votes for the Senate bill.”

The return of Nathan Deal into the mix means one more vote will be required for passage, and the pool of those who voted no the first time who could be flipped to yes just got smaller today, as Stephanie Herseth Sandlin pronounced herself a no.

The South Dakota Democrat confirmed during a telephone conference call with reporters that she won’t vote for the Senate version of health-care reform, just as she didn’t vote for an earlier version approved by the House of Representatives.

As for an additional piece of legislation being developed by President Barack Obama to answer some concerns about the existing Senate bill, Herseth Sandlin said she won’t vote for that if it comes to the House by way of the reconciliation process in the Senate.

“I will not vote for the Senate bill as is,” she said. “I will not vote for a package of changes that would go through the reconciliation process.”

Stupak is reportedly negotiating on something with House leaders, which may be the “third bill” strategy, a standalone vote on his amendment attached to the overall bill, which must pass as a condition of his bloc’s support. Failing that – and that would be an extremely hard sell – House leaders would basically have to run the table on potential flippers.

Liberals are really not a part of that discussion. It’s about the Stupak 12 and Blue Dogs.

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David Dayen

David Dayen