The Corner

Cantor: 37 House Dems Could Abandon Obamacare

In November, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) lassoed 219 other Democrats and eked out a narrow passage for Obamacare in her chamber. With the Senate’s health-care bill heading back to the House, that number could dwindle. Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the House minority whip, released a memo this morning that points to 37 House Democrats who may be looking to jump ship. 

Cantor tells NRO that the upcoming retirements of Sens. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) and Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) and Gov. Bill Ritter (D., Co.) can be attributed partly to the American people’s growing frustration with the Democrats’ handling of the health-care debate. “The Democrats had decided to avoid an open debate,” says Cantor. “That strikes the wrong tone with the public, and people are wondering what they are hiding and who may be rewarded behind closed doors. From the ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ to the ‘Louisiana Purchase,’ it has been a reprehensible practice to watch.”

With the GOP gaining momentum, Cantor tells us that he has “a very plausible formula to stop this bill.” All Republicans need is “three Democrats to change their vote to a ‘no,’ and that’s a real possiblity,” he says, since “many Democrats” feel that the Senate legislation “falls way short” on issues like Medicare cuts, budget costs, and abortion.

Here are some choice snippets from Cantor’s memo:

“Millions of Americans have made clear their opposition to the Democrat take-over of our nation’s health care system. Together with my Whip Team, I have identified 37 Democrats who — we believe — can be persuaded to vote against a final health care agreement. Because each of these 37 Democrats voted for the House bill, we only need to turn 3 votes to prevent a final agreement from passing. . . .

“If we can convince enough of these 37 Members (along with the 39 Democrats who already voted no) to reconsider and switch their position on the bill, I know that we can defeat this government take-over of our health care before it becomes law. . . .

“Democrat Leaders are telling the press and pundits that the hardest part of the process toward enacting their government take-over of our nation’s health care system is past them, but long-time students of the legislative process know better.”

For conservatives, it’s good to see Cantor working hard to build a case for both GOP and Democratic opposition to Obamacare. Although he’s the House GOP whip, and the memo was sent out as fodder for the Right, you can be sure that House Democrats in pro-life districts (such as Dahlkemper, Donnelly, Kaptur, and Oberstar) or in districts with many Medicare Advantage enrollees (such as Space, Moore, Kagen, and Maffei) will be taking close notice.

Robert Costa was formerly the Washington editor for National Review.

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