Health Care Fallout

As we sat there in the Press Gallery watching this weekend's events unfold on health care reform, you couldn't help but wonder whether some of the Democrats who voted 'Yes' would lose their seats in November. If you go back and find my weekend blog titled, "On the Fence," I talk about a former Congressman from Georgia named Don Johnson, whose career went South after he voted for the hotly-contested Clinton budget in 1993.

One current Georgia Republican came up to me in the Speaker's Lobby over the weekend after reading that blog, and told me that Johnson is still used as a prime example of what can happen to a lawmaker, "if you make the wrong decision."

Unlike 1993, Republicans last night did not chant "Bye, bye!" at any Democrats as they strode to the Well of the House to cast their vote.

But that sentiment was clearly there, the argument that Democrats ignored the will of the American people on this health care vote.

"It seems like the arrogance up here, right now is unbelievable," said Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) of Democrats, "that we were elected and we can do anything we want."

But the one Democrat that you might have expected to be beating his chest and berating the opposition was not, as Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) was in a very reflective mood when I caught up with him on Sunday.

But he still had a pithy sound bite to offer, even as he acknowledged the possibility that this vote could cause him trouble in November.

"I want to make sure whether I'm here for two years or twenty years," said Grayson, "when I leave, I want to make sure that I don't have blood on my hands," still offering a zinger.

Grayson voting 'Yes' was no surprise.  But the switch of two Floridians, Rep. Suzanne Kosmas and Rep. Allen Boyd did sort of surprise me.

On Monday, Boyd had voted 'No' in the House Budget Committee on health care reform.  But there he was, less than a week later, taking big jabs at the GOP from the House floor.  You can partially explain his vote - he has liberal primary opposition.

As for his Florida colleague, Kosmas is not only in danger in November, she may be the most endangered Democrat, rivaled only by Rep. Betty Markey (D-CO), whom I also thought would never vote 'Yes'.

That's why they play the games, eh?

After the votes became clear, Republicans were giddy in the hallways in terms of election expectations.  Anything less than a 1994-style takeover seems unacceptable to them.

"I don't think you can over-estimate the effect that this is going to have," said Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL).

Posey, who told me he was "sick to his stomach" about the health care bill's success, did offer up one interesting choice.

The Freshman Republican said he would do something interesting - as Posey said if given the choice - he would let the Democrats stay in charge after November, if, if - if there was no Democratic health care bill becoming law.

The odd thing is, neither of those things may happen.

Last little tidbit for you is that three Democrats split their votes on the two health care bills - which makes your explanation all the more complicated:

* Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) voted 'Yes' on the Senate bill and 'No' on the reconciliation bill

* Rep. Dan Lipinksi (D-IL) voted 'No' on the Senate bill and 'Yes' on reconciliation

* Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) voted 'No' on the Senate bill and 'Yes' on reconciliation


As we sat there in the Press Gallery watching this weekend's events unfold on health care reform, you couldn't help but wonder whether some of the Democrats who voted 'Yes' would lose their seats in November. If you go back and find my weekend blog titled, "On the Fence," I ...

About the Author