Battle for Health Care Votes: Obama Ratchets Up Pressure

"Good Morning America" Speaks to Jason Altmire

Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, one of several members of Congress who are undecided about how they will vote on the health care bill, today acknowledged the political implications of his vote but said he won't let the pressure on him dictate his decision.

"I'm not worried about the political implications of this. This is too important a vote," Altmire, D-Pa., said on "Good Morning America" Thursday. "I'm focusing on what this is going to do to impact my district."

VIDEO: Undecided Dem Rep. Jason Altmire
Undecided Over Health Care Bill

Altmire, who voted "No" on the health care bill in the House the first time around, said he hasn't decided whether he will change his mind, but added that he will let Democratic leaders know of his decision before the vote takes place.

"I think I have an obligation to both sides who are counting the votes to let them know where I am," he said. "I will more than likely make a decision before the vote so everyone will know where I am."

Democratic leaders still are nowhere near the 216 votes they need to pass the health care bill in the House, but they appear to be inching closer to that number, nabbing the votes of two key lawmakers.

VIDEO: Passing President Obamas bill comes down to a few wavering Democrats.
Battle for Health Care Votes

On Wednesday, liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, became the first Democratic congressman who originally voted "No" to change course.

"I have doubts about the bill. I do not think it's a step toward anything I've supported in the past. This is not the bill I wanted to support," Kucinich, D-Ohio, said at a news conference Wednesday. "However, after careful discussions with President Obama, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, my wife Elizabeth and close friends, I have decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation."

The former presidential candidate was one of the leading critics of the Senate health care bill, insisting that he wouldn't vote for it unless it included the option of a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., who had wanted more stringent restrictions on federal funding for abortion, also expressed his support.

"Voting for this bill in no way diminishes my pro-life voting record or undermines my beliefs," Kildee said in a statement.

Kildee had voted for the original House health care bill, but his support for the current legislation was less certain. The anti-abortion amendment offered by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., was stripped out in the Senate health care bill. Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats argue that the current language doesn't go far enough to prevent federal funds from going to abortion. But others, such as President Obama, argue that it maintains current law.

When asked if other skeptical Democrats will also reverse their decision, Kucinich replied: "If I can vote for this bill, there are not many other people who shouldn't be able to support it."

Altmire said even though many of the provisions he opposed initially have been removed, he still has issues with the cost of the health care bill.

"The long-term cost projections are simply unsustainable... and previous versions of the bill had costs actually increasing for the federal government over time. I can't vote for something like that this time," Altmire said on "GMA." "It's not about the number of the bill, it's about bringing down the cost of health care and slowing down the trajectory."

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