First Look at the House Health Care Vote

A few days after the one year anniversary of Barack Obama’s election, the House of Representatives has succeeded in passing what pundits of many stripes are calling  “sweeping reform.”  I’m one of those sick political junkies who stayed up to watch the vote.  220 to 215.  39 Democrats voted against final passage while one Republican voted for.  The magic number was 218.

Speaker Pelosi and the House Leadership.  Photo from the New York Times.

I’ve been looking at the voting pattern posted on the New York Times “Inside Congress” webpage.  There were four votes taken last night.  Looking at Democrat Rick Boucher, an old friend from the mountains of Virginia in a district that voted for McCain and two Republicans, An Cao from New Orleans and Timothy Johnson from Illinois, is quite interesting.

On the Stupak Amendment that added language relating to abortion beyond that of the horrible Hyde Amendment, all three men voted party line and the amendment passed 240 to 194.   The next vote was on the Republican substitute bill.  Rick Boucher and Timothy Johnson voted against the Republican bill while An Cao voted for it.   The substitute was defeated 258 to 176.  (Speaker Pelosi didn’t vote.)

The third vote was to recommit the Democratic Bill.  This was defeated 247 to 187 with Boucher and Johnson (joined by Republican John Duncan from Tennessee) voted against and An Cao voting for recommitment.On the vote for final passage, Boucher and Johnson voted against the Democratic bill while An Cao voted for it.  The Senate Democrats should take a lesson from Rick and vote to end the Republican filibuster even if they vote against the final bill.  And An Cao stood with his leadership on everything but final passage.  (Snowe and Collins take note. )  Harry Reid needs only 50 Democratic votes for passage and Joe Biden can break the tie. 

Chris Cillizaa makes an interesting observation in the Washington Post this morning. 


That’s the number of House Democrats voting against tonight’s health care bill who represent districts carried by President Barack Obama during the 2008 election.

Of the eight, Obama’s highest percentage came in Rep. Artur Davis‘ 7th district where he won 74 percent of the vote. Davis’ vote is rightly understood through a political lens as, despite the overwhelming support for Obama in his district, he is running for governor of a conservative-leaning state next November and wants to safeguard against attacks from Republicans.

Six of the remaining seven members — Reps. John Adler (N.J.), Brian Baird (Wash.), John Barrow (Ga.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Scott Murphy (N.Y.) and Glenn Nye (Va.) — represent districts where the President took 55 percent or less in 2008, making their decision to vote “no” strategically defensible

(The last Democratic member holding an Obama district to vote against the bill was Rep. Dennis Kucinich who, as we all know, is tough to predict.)

That means — for you non-math majors out there — that 31 of the 39 Democrats who voted against the bill represent seats won by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) last fall.

Hats off to Speaker Nancy Pelosi for getting the bill passed.  Ball is now passed to Harry Reid.

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