A new whip count hits Twitter every five minutes or so, replete with the latest “X says he undecided!” news, but I think every last one of them is pointless. There are a few Dems in the “definitely not” column but most seem to be in the “I’m leaning no but can be probably bought off” category. We won’t know which bribes Pelosi has in mind for which congressmen until tomorrow, so what’s the use in trying to predict now? It’s pure gamesmanship, aimed at convincing fencesitters that there’s a tide breaking in favor/against the bill. Game on:
In a press conference on Capitol Hill today, Rep. David Dreier (R., Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee, said the word around the House is that Democrats are still about 10 votes away from securing the 216 they will need to pass changes to the health-care bill. Dreier added that that number might be moving in the wrong direction.
“You are hearing that people are peeling off,” he said.
Dreier also repeated the warnings about the Senate that many Congressional Republicans have been issuing to the other side of the aisle. Dreier said that, assuming House Democrats succeed in passing a reconciliation measure along to the Senate, even marginal changes made there would require the measure to return to the House yet again…
The reconciliation measure would also have to be sent back to the House if any provisions contained therein were struck down by the Byrd Rule.
Imagine this. The Dems use the Slaughter strategy to pass a reconciliation fix, with Reid’s underlying Senate bill “deemed” passed by implication. But then, when Reid tries to pass the House’s reconciliation fix, the GOP succeeds in having parts of it stripped out or revised. A stripped-out fix eventually passes the Senate, but then it has to go back to the House to be passed there too so that the reconciliation bills in both chambers are identical. What if it doesn’t pass there? The result would be that Reid’s Senate bill will be law even though (a) there was no vote on the bill itself and (b) the bill in which it was “incorporated” itself failed to become law. Can’t wait. Bear in mind too that Obama’s own pollster is attempting to sell Democrats on voting for the bill per the theory that it’s not the legislation itself that the public hates, merely the dealmaking and procedural shenanigans. Even if that were true, how’s it going to play out at the polls when voters get a good hard whiff of Slaughter’s nonsense and the imminent Pelosi bribes, which have now been blessed by the White House?
DeMint says he’s “less confident” now than he was previously that O-Care can be stopped, but Clyburn is suddenly talking about an Easter Sunday deadline. And there is a reason to think Dreier might be right about people peeling off. According to a new poll of swing districts, the bill’s as toxic as you would expect:
Seven in 10 would vote against a House member who votes for the Senate health-care bill with its special interest provisions. That includes 45% of self-identified Democrats, 72% of independents and 88% of Republicans. Three in four disagree that the federal government should mandate that everyone buy a government-approved insurance plan (64% strongly so), and 81% say any reform should focus first on reducing costs. Three quarters agree that Americans have the right to choose not to participate in any health-care system or plan without a penalty or fine…
But the survey does provide a little good news for wavering Democrats. A congressman can buy himself a little grace if he had previously voted for health-care reform but now votes against it. Forty-nine percent of voters will feel more supportive of that member if he does so, 40% less supportive. More dramatically, 58% of voters say they will be more supportive of their congressman’s re-election if he votes against the bill a second time. However, for those members who voted against it in November and vote yes this time, 61% of voters say they will be less likely to support their re-election.
Here’s the crosstab on how House members can improve/hurt their chances with their health-care vote. Obviously, having voted no in November on Pelosi’s bill and voting no again now is the way to go to maximize one’s chances for reelection:
Exit question: Is there anything the GOP can do this week to sway fencesitters? I was thinking this morning that it might not be a bad idea for McConnell and Boehner to pledge publicly that if the bill fails, they’ll make health-care reform their number two priority next year behind jobs. One of the big worries for centrist Dems is that if they vote no this time, health-care reform will be headed for another 16-year legislative limbo. If the GOP can somehow alleviate the “now or never” fear, it might give just enough Blue Dogs the comfort they need.