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The Kucinich Switch and the Whip Count

Dennis Kucinich’s reversal and decision to support the health care bill changes the dynamic around the vote, but the ultimate question of whether or not the bill will pass was always going to be decided by the right flank of the caucus.

Adding in Kucinich’s support, and Ann Kirkpatrick’s, to the last whip count puts the number at 193 yes, 205 no, and 208-208 with leaners. That leaves Democrats needing 8 of the final 15 uncommitted votes to come through. The group includes five who voted no last time, and 10 who voted yes. So theoretically, if nobody flips to no, the Democrats have the votes. Here are the final 15:

Lincoln Davis, Jim Matheson, Harry Teague, Travis Childers, John Barrow, Zack Space, Chris Carney, Brad Ellsworth, Jerry Costello, Henry Cuellar, Nick Rahall, Solomon Ortiz, Earl Pomeroy, Bill Foster, Harry Mitchell.

That’s quite a conservative group, all on the right side of the caucus. I don’t think Kucinich’s announcement really sways any of them; Kirkpatrick, a freshman from a swing district, would actually do more. And as I’ve said repeatedly, it’s the Stupak bloc, or members from it who split off, who will ultimately be in the position to decide this thing.

In addition, if Jason Altmire finally ends his public hand-wringing and decides he can’t support the bill, or some of the lean Yes votes I have switch things up, the count tilts again. As one House Democrat said this week, “We have no bill, we have no date, and we have no (CBO) score.” Until that gets resolved, there are still a lot of variables here. Kucinich’s announcement gives Democrats momentum, without question. But it’s not yet a done deal.

…The main thing the Kucinich switch shows is how completely ridiculous it is for any media whip count or hyperventilating blog to include Luis Gutierrez or Michael Capuano as a No. It’s not realistic at all to expect liberals in Congress to carry out defiant stands; anyone who’s been paying attention for the past several years can attest to that. Gutierrez and Capuano will be on the bill, in the end. Book it.

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David Dayen

David Dayen