LaHood: 10 House Republicans Could Back Health Care

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I mentioned on Friday that I'd gone to see Ray LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation. LaHood, as you probably know, was a Republican congressman from Illinois before he was Obama's transportation secretary, and he's a bona fide Republican--he took over the seat once held by House Minority Leader Bob Michel, which includes Peoria. I asked LaHood about health care and he told me that every Cabinet member has been enlisted in selling the package and that he thinks that in the end as many as 10 House Republicans might support the final passage of a bill. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it seems important to me for a couple of reasons. It gives the president some bipartisan cover assuming that he can't get any in the Senate, where all eyes are on Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican senator from Maine. Sure, passage of what the president wants is inevitable in the House, where Democrats have a huge majority and there's no fussing around with 60 percent of the body being needed for passage. Any Republican support would be a blessing, and as a former House Republican LaHood is in a position to help get it. He helped pull in eight crucial GOP l votes  for the president's energy bill earlier this year, something that Obama called and thanked him for the next day. "Part of the reason I have this job is because I can help bring in Republican votes," LaHood says. He helped recruit former GOP congressman John McHugh to be Army Secretary. "When people call me on their road projects, I take their temperature on health care."

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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