Dem Defections Pile Up on Health Care

By Lee Speigel

Nov 6, 2009 8:22pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Could the health care bill be in real trouble in the House?

The Democratic defections are starting to pile up in advance of a vote scheduled for tomorrow on sweeping health reform efforts. (That schedule could slip to Sunday or beyond,  if the votes aren’t there.)

According to the National Republican Congressional Committee — which, of course, has an interest in watching this vote particularly closely — 15 House Democrats and counting are saying publicly that they’ll oppose the measure when it reaches a vote.

Democrats can afford only 40 such defections to squeak the bill through. They’d prefer to win with room to spare.

The Democrats who’ve said — either in interviews or press releases — that they’re opposing the bill include: Rep. Travis Childers (Miss.); Rep. John Adler (N.J.); Rep. Walt Minnick (Idaho); Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.Dak.); Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.); Rep. Frank Kratovil (Md.); Rep. Larry Kissell (N.C.); Rep. Bart Gordon (Tenn.); Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.); Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah); Rep. Michael McMahon (N.Y.); Rep. John Tanner (Tenn.); Rep. Brian Baird (Wash.); Rep. Harry Teague (N.M.); and Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.).

House Democratic aides say the list contains no surprises so far.

Some of the Democrats’ statements leave a bit of wiggle room. Plus — as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos is reporting — Democratic leaders are working behind the scenes to answer concerns among conservative Democrats about how the bill would handle funding for abortions.

But — keeping in mind that many members of Congress prefer to announce their intentions with their votes, not press releases — the defections suggest that reaching 218 remains a serious challenge for Democrats on the eve of the vote.

“If this bill is the political winner Nancy Pelosi claims it is, then why are Democrats fighting over who gets to vote against it?” NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said in a statement.

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