Without Murtha, Dems now one vote short of passing ObamaCare in House

A nice catch by Philip Klein that completely eluded me earlier. With 218 votes needed to pass Reid’s bill, the number of Democrats who voted for the House’s ObamaCare bill last year now stands at … 217.

Back in November, the House passed its health care bill by a narrow 220 to 215 margin, with 39 Democrats voting against it. Since then, the one Republican who voted for it — Joseph Cao — has indicated that he would not support the bill a second time around given the weaker language on abortion in the Senate version. In addition, Florida Rep. Robert Wexler already retired prematurely. Factor in Murtha’s death today, and Pelosi is down to 217 votes — one short of passage. To pass the bill at some point in the next few months, she’ll need to flip a Democrat who is already on record voting against the bill. This doesn’t even take into account the pro-life Democrats led by Bart Stupak who are prepared to vote “no.” While there’s been talk that Pelosi had some votes in reserve the first time around, the point is that those members felt they needed to vote against the bill — and the political environment has deteriorated substantially for Democrats since then

Another complicating factor is Rep. Neil Abercrombie. The Hawaii Democrat announced early last month that he would resign Feb. 28 run for governor. However, in his statement announcing his resignation, he said that he had ensured Pelosi that he’d be around to continue supporting the health care bill. Back when he made that statement, Scott Brown hadn’t won yet, and thus the end of this month seemed like plenty of time to finalize the health care bill. Now that the timeline has been pushed back, perhaps he’d postpone the effective date of his resignation if Pelosi still needed his vote.

Bizarrely, just three weeks after Scotty B shocked the world in Massachusetts, we’re now looking at a re-run of that race in PA-12. It’s a special election to fill out a nationally recognized legislator’s term, and the winner stands to cast the deciding vote on O-Care in his chamber. Expect the Republican nominee to run hard on that point, especially since his opponent is bound to run on the fact that, with the Dems in power, he can deliver more earmarks for Murtha’s district than a Republican could. Exit question: Is opposition to ObamaCare so intense in Johnstown that voters there might cut off their supply of pork because of it? I’m skeptical.

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