A lot of the hub-bub surrounding Thursday’s health care summit between President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats and Republicans is focused on whether Democrats eventually will use “reconciliation” to get legislation through the Senate. That’s a procedure for making revenues and spending conform to the budget and isn’t subject to a minority filibuster. Theoretically, you could get the latest House-Senate Democratic compromise back through the Senate with just a simple majority vote.
Sort of under the radar is quite a bit of evidence that the House of Representatives is where Democrats will have their problems. The House originally passed its health care bill in November with just five votes to spare (220-215), and Democratic and Republican sources say Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have that margin anymore. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., tells The Hill newspaper 15 to 20 Democrats don’t like the current compromise for various reasons. Stupak’s chief complaint is the bill’s abortion-funding language, which is more lenient than what was in the original House version. He and a number of fellow anti-abortion Democrats appear unlikely to vote yes this time around.
Obviously, a swing of 15 or more Democratic votes in the House is a monumental problem for Obama and the majority’s leadership. The vote in November snagged one GOP vote, and no one expects any of the other Republicans to change their minds. As things unfold, smart money says to keep an eye on the House.