Friday, March 19, 2010

The Daily Strike-3/19/10-Whip Count Update (Good News!)

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike as we enter Health Care Weekend 2010. There are a lot of things to cover tonight, so let's get right to it.

WHIP COUNT: The Democrats received a lot of very good news today as they gear up for a final vote on health care legislation this Sunday. Three Democrats who voted no on the House-passed bill in November have decided to support the legislation. Rep. Boccieri (OH), and Reps. Boyd (FL) and Kosmas (FL) have released statements saying that they support the legislation. Rep. Ellsworth (IN), who is running for Senate this year, has also announced he would support the bill. Ellsworth voted yes in November, but many believed he would be a part of the Stupak group that would oppose the bill because of its abortion language.

Democrats, according to trusted vote counters at Open Left, have probably lost 9 members who voted yes last time. 6 Democrats seem to be a part of the "Stupak group" that will vote against the bill solely because of its abortion language. The lone Republican to vote for the bill, Rep. Cao (LA), is solidly in the Stupak camp as well. Reps. Lynch (MA) and Arcuri (NY) seem to be opposing the bill for other (read: stupid) reasons. For the bill to pass with these defections, Democrats would need to convert at least 8 former no votes into yes votes. So far, they have converted 6. There is a pretty decent pool of undecided former no votes for the Democrats to reach into. Rep. Baird (WA) is retiring this year, and he has a reasonably liberal record despite his no vote last November. Rep. Murphy (NY) has seemed inclined to be more of a yes than a no. Rep. Tanner (TN) is also retiring, and would probably join the leadership in supporting the bill if he had absolutely had to. If two of these members switched their votes, and there were no other defections from the yes column, the bill would pass.

UPDATE: Murphy (NY) now a yes!!

Of course, Democrats still have to be wary of rogue members who are threatening to switch to no votes. Reps. DeFazio (OR) and Rush (IL), for example, are making a big fuss about a couple of provisions in the bill and have threatened to oppose it, but I don't think anyone believes they would actually bring the bill down.

If worst comes to worst, Democrats could cut a deal with the Stupak bloc guaranteeing them a separate vote on the bill's abortion language. That will be a last resort.

I would put the odds of passage right now quite high, considering today's switches. I also think we may get some last minute switches into the yes column from unlikely sources (perhaps Lincoln Davis of TN, Mike McMahon of NY, Boucher of VA).

It's gonna be a very close vote. I would say that Democrats probably have a maximum of 220 votes at this point. But if betting were legal in the United States, I would put significant money on passage of the bill once Sunday rolls around.

We will keep you posted with frequent updates on Twitter, which will be the best place to get your instant House vote news this weekend.

THE HOUSE: The House actually took care of some business on the floor today. It was smart for Democratic leaders to schedule votes today, because they can use the time to corner undecided members on the floor.

The House today passed a bill that will award grants for education on Coastal, Ocean and Watershed issues. The vote was 244-170. 8 Republicans voted yes and 9 Democrats voted no. The House also passed a bill dealing with Hudson Valley Resource allocation. The House will probably not hold any votes tomorrow, though the Rules Committee will begin a hearing on the health care legislation. The President is also expected to give a pep talk to House Democrats.

Stay with us this weekend. It could be, perhaps, rather historic.

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