Steve Benen on Passing Health Care

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All eyes are on the Senate as Democrats gear up to tackle health care reform through reconciliation. The plan is for the House to pass a modified version of the Senate's health care reform bill. The Senate will then use reconciliation, which requires a simple majority rather than 60 votes, to pass a set of amendments to make their bill match the House bill.

But the Washington Monthly's Steve Benen points out that even though the Senate is getting all the media attention this week, the real battle will be fought in the House. After all, though the House already passed its more generous version of health care reform months ago, it did so with slim margins, and the political climate has changed significantly since then. Democrat Mike Arcuri just changed his vote from yes to no. Will others follow?

By all appearances, the margin will be razor-thin in the House, where it will be imperative to keep as many Dems who voted for reform the first time on board with final passage, while reaching out to Democratic opponents to change their minds. When weak-willed incumbents like [Arcuri] show almost comically-bad judgment, the task is all the more difficult. [...] In truth, Arcuri's opposition sounds like someone searching desperately for an excuse. He's just scared. I understand why -- Arcuri represents a swing district in central New York, and he doesn't want to lose his job for doing the right thing.

Benen, clearly concerned that others will follow, makes an impassioned case to House Democrats who, like Arcuri, may consider switching.

Arcuri can reap the possible reward only if he helps deliver on the promise. If he turns tail now, the political problem doesn't get better for his re-election campaign; it gets considerably worse. [...] His fear notwithstanding, Arcuri will be in a much stronger position to defend himself on the heels of success, not failure. I'm not suggesting he take one for the team and vote for reform regardless of the consequences; I'm suggesting that it's in Arcuri's own self-interest to support good legislation that will help his constituents.
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