Kissell Explains His Flip Flop

by Daniel Foster

Rep. Larry Kissell (D., N.C.) is reportedly the Democrat who yesterday switched his vote on Obamacare from ‘yea’ to ‘nay’ at the last second — even though he voted against the ACA itself last year.

Why’d he do it? This McClatchy report offers some explanation:

Kissell has told constituents that he would rather chip away at the law through changes and that, in any case, with Obama in the White House and the Democrats still controlling the Senate, the Republican House effort is a doomed effort.

“Simply put: we must live in a reality-based world,” Kissell wrote in a column he disseminates in District 8. “Those who are saying they are able to repeal the law are ultimately misleading the people.”

Does the uphill climb repeal faces change his opinion on the substance of the bill? Otherwise I don’t get it. A shorter explanation of Kissell’s move is that he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. I suspect that, instead of cake, he’ll get a fairly healthy serving of tea. 

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Chris Schuler, Rep. Kissell’s communications director, who assured me on the record that “He did not switch his vote.” I used the word “reportedly” in the above post, because although some bloggers were reporting Kissell was the switcher yesterday, there is no way to track a changed vote unless you’re standing on the floor of the House watching the board every minute during the vote. Alas, I was not.

Schuler clarified Kissell’s votes on the repeal: Yes on the vote for the rule (to bring repeal to the floor); yes on the motion to recommit (to send repeal back to committee — that is, to take the bill off the floor!); No on repeal itself; Yes on replacement. Got that?

Schuler also passed along this statement from Kissell after yesterday’s vote, which is in line with the above quoted:


“It is quite clear that the Senate will not act on any repeal measure, nor will the President sign such a bill,” said Kissell. “This law is not perfect.  There are elements within it that are beneficial as well as elements that still seriously concern me. We have a choice: we can look backward and have the same fight all over again, or we can move forward determined to make things better and focus on our economy. I choose to look forward and work to make things better.”

“I voted against the health care bill last year due to my concerns of cuts to Medicare,” added Kissell. “It is my job to make sure that those concerns, as well as other concerns, including the unfair 1099 tax filing requirements on small businesses, are addressed. Everyone agrees that we cannot return to the same broken system. We need to get this settled and return our focus to creating jobs and bolstering our economy. I will continue to remain focused on doing just that.”

I certainly thank Mr. Schuler for the call, and heartily regret my error. But I’m not sure I’m any less confused about the congressman’s position.

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