Understanding the Voting Dynamics in the House on Health Care

For those of you following health care…

Here's an easy reference guide to understanding the House’s health care vote on November 7, who voted no..and where the current vote tally may stand.

First of all, the vote on November 7 was 220-215. 39 Democrats broke with their party and voted no. One Republican, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) voted yes. If the House is at full membership (435), 218 votes are required to pass a bill.

But the dynamics have changed since then. For starters, Cao is on record as saying he will vote no this time around. Plus, if House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) even thought there was a Republican member who might vote yes, this time around, he would make sure that lawmaker is locked in a cabin in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan for the final health care vote.

Secondly, the Democrats are down three yes votes. The late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) is dead. Plus, former Reps. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) have resigned.

Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) voted no and he has now resigned. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) was a no. He intends to resign later this month. But has not set a concrete date.

So, there are four vacancies in the House. That puts the new House total at 431. So the magic number is 416. And in case any one is asking, ties in the House do not go to the runner. A tie vote loses.

With the vacancies created by Messrs. Murtha, Wexler and Abercrombie and the vote switch of Cao, if everything else holds, Democrats are now down to 216. In fact, if the vote were the same, the tally would be precisely 216-216.

Again, by rule in the House tie votes lose.

And Democrats may be down even more no votes than that. A litany of moderate, pro-life Democrats are no planning to vote no if there isn’t a better plan to handle abortion. They include Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Marion Berry (D-AR) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

Note that Oberstar chairs the House Transportation Committee. Oberstar voted yes last November. Rarely do committee chairs buck their party leadership. Another potential no is Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN). He voted no the last time.

Here are some other possible nos on the abortion question alone: Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN). He’s now running for Senate in Indiana. Then try Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA). With Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) sidelined, Neal wants to become chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. It’s possible a no vote by Neal could cost him a shot at the chairman’s gavel in the eyes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Other possible nos because of abortion include Reps. Jerry Costello (D-IL), Charlie Wilson (D-OH), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA).

Now, there were 39 House Democrats who voted no in November. Democrats now face 37 nos. Eric Massa resigned. Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) switched parties in December and is now a Republican.

Note that the House Democratic leadership team is looking closely at trying to flip the votes of three retiring lawmakers: Reps. John Tanner (D-TN), Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Brian Baird (D-WA).

There are two hard nos on the Democratic side: Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK) and Walt Minnick (D-ID).

Here is the complete list of Democratic nos from the November vote:

Rep. John Adler (D-NJ); Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA); Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA);  Rep. John Barrow (D-GA); Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH); Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK); Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA); Rep. F. Allen Boyd (D-FL); Rep. Bobby Bright (D-AL); Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY); Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS); Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL); Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN); Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX); Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN); Rep. Parker Griffith (D-AL); Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD); Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA); Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC); Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL); Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD); Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH); Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO); Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA); Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY); Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT); Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC); Rep. Mike McMahon (NY); Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA); Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID); Rep. Scott Murphy (D-NY); Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA); Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN); Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR); Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC); Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO); Rep. John Tanner (D-TN); Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS); Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM)