The Hill’s “Whip Count” on ObamaCare – as of Today
posted at 2:16 pm on March 13, 2010 by Dafydd ab Hugh
The Hill newspaper is published daily in the nation’s capital while Congress is in session, which is unfortunately true right now. They’ve been publishing a daily (or so) whip-count; that is, the Democratic and Republican leaders tell the Hill how many votes they think they have, and the paper makes the final judgment (presumably after talking to some of the waverers).
In the count published today, here’s how we stand:
- All 178 Republicans will vote Nay.
- 34 of the Democrats are firm, leaning, or likely Nays; this includes eight Democrats who voted Yea the last time around in November.
- 147 Democrats are firm, leaning, or likely Yeas.
- The remaining 72 Democrats are “undecided.”
That puts the current count at 147 Yea, 212 Nay, with 72 toss-ups. Note that a majority is currently 216, since there are only 431 members of the House right now.
To put it in a nuthouse, Republicans must get 4 of those toss-up Dems to vote Nay, while the Democrats must get 69 of the toss-up Dems to vote Yea.
It should be obvious now why Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) has not yet called the vote: The risk is too great that the Nay-sayers will get their 4 before the Yes-men get their 69. And she won’t call the vote until the whip-count shows better odds for ObamaCare than against it.
Now I expect the great majority of those toss-up Dems will eventually vote for ObamaCare; but if they lose only 4 out of the 72 (6%) it goes down. Bear in mind that when the current Congress ends — probably sometime in late November or December — any legislation passed in one or both chambers but not signed into law dies.
The new Congress would have to start all over again with ObamaCare (if it’s still controlled by Democrats); the new House cannot simply pass the previous Senate’s bill and send it to President Barack H. Obama for signature.
As a more practical matter, the closer we edge to the November 2nd elections, the greater the pressure on the toss-up Dems to vote Nay, since that is the way most of their constituents want them to vote.
Note to Democratic readers: The congressional elections for your party will be held on Wednesday, November 3rd. On that date, please vote early and vote often!
I would guess that the window will firmly shut in late May or early June; after that — with one dangerous exception — ObamaCare cannot be enacted, for reasons of politics.
The one dangerous exception is the putative “lame-duck” period of the second session of the 111th Congress… the short interval after the elections but before the 112th Congress is seated on January 3rd (per the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution).
During those two months, every representative in the House already knows whether he has been reelected, and the Senate bill is still in effect.
A defeated Democrat has nothing to lose by voting for ObamaCare. If enough of those currently leaning towards Nay are defeated, they may, in a fit of vindictive revenge against the constituents who fired them, vote in as perverse a manner as possible. (Though of course, it’s unlikely the reconciliation side of the package could also be enacted during that period.)
This is the most likely time for ObamaCare to be enacted, since it would then have virtually no consequences on its supporters: Many of the Democrats voting for it will have already been defeated; and for those from moderate districts who were nevertheless reelected, a December vote gives them the maximal “memory-lapse” time before facing voters again in 2012.
I’m quite concerned about that interval; has the GOP given it much thought?
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…