Politics

Massachusetts House liberal likely no vote could be bad sign for Dems

Jon Ward Contributor

UPDATE – 6:21 p.m. – Lynch told me just now his meeting with President Obama went “really well,” but that the president did not change his mind, and he remains opposed to the health care bill.

“I’m firmly against the bill. I’m not leaning. I’m firmly against,” he said on his way out of the House chamber.

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Rep. Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat who voted for the health-care bill last fall, went on at length to reporters about how he is almost certainly a no vote because of his concerns that the Senate will not pass the reconciliation fixes to the Senate bill the House will be asked to pass.

Lynch is meeting with President Obama at the White House Thursday afternoon, and said he would not label himself as a definite no vote because he did not want to be “disrespectful” to the president.

Lynch called the Senate bill as it now stands “a complete surrender” to the insurance companies, who he said “still hold the hostages.”

“This is not real meaningful reform,” Lynch said, adding that he does not think reconciliation will work.

“I don’t think the significant changes required for real reform can fit in the reconciliation structure,” he said.

And he pointed to 290 bills passed in the House still languishing in the Senate, and said the reconciliation fix “might be one more bill on the pile.”

Lynch said he did not know how many other liberal Democrats in the House felt the same way he did. But if Lynch’s thinking about reconciliation is at all representative or catches on within the liberal caucus, then Speaker Nancy Pelosi could have real trouble getting to 216 votes.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, Virginia Democrat, said in an interview he thought it was “more of an isolated concern.”

“I don’t hear a lot of rumblings about that,” he said.

Additionally, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, was saying all the same things as Lynch until he took a ride on Air Force One with Obama on Monday.