One day before the House votes on health care

It is Saturday afternoon.  The Tar Heels won their NIT game, my NCAA bracket is doing so-so. and the Sox won.  There is a lot going on including the all important countdown to 216 votes in the House.

A couple of things have happened.  President Obama has made his “remember why you are a Democrat” speech (or maybe it is live up to Abe Lincoln) before the House Democratic Caucus.  There are sufficient votes in the Senate for the bill as it will be amended by the House and it looks like Nancy Pelosi will get to 216 sometime before tomorrow’s votes if she is not already there.  The picture and the quotes that follow are from the New York Times Prescriptions blog.

President Barack Obama met with House Democrats on Capitol Hill to discuss health insurance reform legislation, Saturday, March 20, 2010 in Washington

“You have a chance to make good on the promises you made,” Mr. Obama said. “This is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself: ‘Doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I made these sacrifices.’ ”

“Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself,” he added. “This is the time to make good on this promise.”

He had opened his speech by quoting Lincoln

“I am not bound to win but I am bound to be true,” he said.

I have to believe that once the bill is passed and signed and benefits begin to kick in there will be support for the bill.  I really liked the President’s characterization of the the Republican’s trying to get Democrats to vote no.

“I notice that there has been a lot of friendly advice offered all across town,” he said. “Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Karl Rove — they are all warning you of the horrendous impact if you support this legislation.”

He continued, “Now, it could be that they are suddenly having a change of heart, and they are deeply concerned about their democratic friends. They are giving you the best possible advice in order to ensure that Nancy Pelosi remains speaker and Harry Reid remains leader and all of you keep your seats — that’s a possibility.”

Mr. Obama chuckled at himself, and lawmakers in the audience laughed.

“But it may also be possible that they realize that after health reform passes and I sign that legislation into law, it’s going to be a little harder to mischaracterize what this legislation has been all about,” he said.

So with all this, what is going on the Representative Stephen Lynch?  Lynch represents the part of Boston not represented by my Rep, Mike Capuano, who is voting “yes”.  Lynch has announced that he is voting “no” because the bill does not do enough to control the cost of insurance.  There is a lot of pressure on him by the local unions, include SEIU of which I am a member.  According to the Boston Globe

More than 20 Massachusetts labor leaders made a last-ditch appeal to US Representative Stephen F. Lynch late yesterday, urging him to “do the right thing’’ and vote for a national health care overhaul.

In a letter delivered to Lynch’s South Boston office, the group suggested a vote against the bill would damage his standing with their membership.

Lynch, a former president of Ironworkers Local 7, declared Thursday that he will vote against the health care bill. He said the current bill does not do enough to force insurance companies to reduce costs.

“Congressman, we will not be able to explain to the working women and men of our union why you voted against their interests,’’ the letter states. “We have stood together time and time again and you have made an enormous difference.’’

“It takes courage to make history,’’ they wrote. “We know that you have always had the courage to do the right thing — national health reform is the right thing for Massachusetts families. Please stand with us once again and do the right thing.’’

It looks like he will join Senator Scott Brown in being the two “no” votes from Massachusetts.

Another Republican objection disappeared this afternoon when the House Rules committee decided against “deeming” and will now hold two votes.  As explained in the Washington Post

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said the House will take three votes on Sunday: first, on a resolution that will set the terms of debate; second, on a package of amendments to the Senate bill that have been demanded by House members; and third, on the Senate bill itself.

Van Hollen, who has been working on the issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said House leaders concluded that that order — approving the amendments before approving the Senate bill — makes clear that the House intends to modify the Senate bill and not approve the Senate bill itself.

“We believe this is a better process,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said of the vote strategy. “We determined we could do this. . . . We believe we have the votes.”

This is all possible because Senator Reid has done his head count and has the votes to pass the reconciled bill.

I think we will know who the 216 votes will be by tomorrow morning.

And before I retire to watch basketball (do you believe that St. Mary’s beat Villanova?! ) here is a link to the amendments the House will be making to the Senate bill.

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