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Can Pelosi Pass The Bill Without Stupak?

I wanted to delve deeper into the whip count on the health care bill, based on some newer information.

We know that all Republicans will vote against the bill; I think Joseph Cao is a lost cause no matter what happens on the Stupak amendment. This means that Nancy Pelosi can only afford to lose 38 Democrats to get a bare majority.

Here’s the list of the 39 Democrats who voted against the bill the first time around. One of them is now a Republican: Parker Griffith. Of the rest, several are confirmed no votes:

Bobby Bright, Mike McIntyre, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Walt Minnick, Chet Edwards, Frank Kratovil, Dan Boren, Gene Taylor, Dennis Kucinich, Collin Peterson.

I think those votes are pretty firm, leaving about 28 no votes, at most, out there to flip. You would have to offset any yes votes that flip to no this time around, which could include 11 House Democrats from the Stupak 12, as well as Mike Arcuri and any other Democrat wavering now.

Where from the 28 no votes can they come from? There are four House retirements among those 28: Brian Baird, Bart Gordon, John Tanner, and now Eric Massa (3 of these 4 are possible; I think Massa is actually a stretch). Gordon made some favorable noises about voting for health care reform today:

“Throughout the debate over the past year, I’ve said any responsible health care bill must do two things: reduce overall health care spending and increase access to affordable care,” Mr. Gordon said in the statement. “I voted against the House bill in November because it expanded coverage but did not do enough to bring down costs. I’m pleased to see the discussion moving in a more fiscally responsible direction now.”

I would say that Scott Murphy is a likely yes, because he’ll need national support in his re-election campaign, and because he signed on to the public option letter passed around by Chellie Pingree and Jared Polis earlier this year.

Others who were singled out in that AP story about whip counts, or who have made some positive noises on their own, include:

Jason Altmire (PA); Rick Boucher (VA); Allen Boyd (FL); Suzanne Kosmas (FL); Betsy Markey (CO); Mike McMahon (NY); Glenn Nye (VA), Mike Ross (AR).

There are some other undecideds, like Tim Holden.

You can see why Pelosi and House leaders are talking to Stupak. There are simply no more than a handful of no votes even considering flipping to yes, and possibly not enough to offset the Stupak bloc.

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David Dayen

David Dayen