Eric Cantor Makes Case House Democrats Don't Have Votes For Health Care Reform

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor has released a memo (PDF) laying out the case that the Democrats simply don't have the votes in the House to pass the Senate health care bill with a reconciliation sidecar strategy. Clearly, it is to the Republican Party's benefit to strongly make the case that Democrats don't have the votes for health care reform in order to create a self-fulfilling feedback loop, so Cantor is probably overstating his case in this memo. With that in mind, however, it makes for an interesting read, and gives people a good sense of how the whip operation will be run, who it will be directed at, and who might be the potential swing votes.

The biggest stumbling block that Cantor highlights is abortion. Cantor claims it should cost Democrats 12 votes.
1. Cao, Anh (LA)
2. Costello, Jerry (IL)
3. Dahlkemper, Kathy (PA)
4. Donnelly, Joe (IN)
5. Driehaus, Steve (OH)
6. Ellsworth, Brad (IN)
7. Kaptur, Marcy (OH)
8. Kildee, Dale (MI)
9. Lipinski, Dan (IL)
10. Oberstar, Jim (MN)
11. Stupak, Bart (MI)
12.Wilson, Charlie (OH)

I would dispute (slightly) a few of these members. Republican Cao was probably always a lost cause, regardless of the abortion language. I can't see him casting the one vote to put them over the edge, so even if he ends up voting for the bill, it will probably be only after the bill has enough Democratic votes to pass anyway. Brad Ellsworth is trying to get the nod for the Indiana Senate race; bucking the party and killing Obama's health care bill would probably cost him the nomination, so I suspect, at this point, he is a reliable "yes" vote if needed. How many others could be flipped for different reasons is also an open question.

Assuming this list is even partially accurate, it is a big problem. I have laid out a potential strategy for dealing with abortion through reconciliation sidecar. Barring some similar fix to the abortion issue, or some serious strong arm strategy to flip the Stupak Democrats, Pelosi would need to find votes among the conservatives Democrats who previously voted against health care reform. Finding a dozen conservative Democrats who don't care about the abortion language--and who are now willing to vote for a very unpopular Senate health care bill--seems like a Herculean task.

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