For Democrats, a More United Front on Health Care

The dissenters are gone, while others aren't voting with the GOP

As House Republicans push a bill to repeal the new health care law, Democrats find themselves far more united in support of President Obama's reforms, and for one simple reason: The dissenters are gone.

It's a bittersweet situation for House Democrats, able to exercise greater discipline among the caucus, but having lost the majority and missing dozens of the conservative Democrats with whom most of the caucus didn't see eye to eye--some of them veterans of Congress whose midterm losses surprised many, some of them sophomores who helped Democrats take over Congress four years ago in the 2006 wave.

The House voted Friday to move forward on the GOP's repeal agenda, and four Democrats sided with Republicans, signaling four probable votes in favor of repeal next week.

The four repeal-supporting Democrats were North Carolina's Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre, Oklahoma's Dan Boren, and Arkansas's Mike Ross.

All four voted against health reform last March, when it first passed the House. And all four won re-election, while many who bucked the party line on health care were not so fortunate.

"An overwhelming majority of my constituents have made it clear that they do not support this specific health care legislation.  I voted against the measure in the last Congress and I will support the repeal," Boren explained in a statement.

Of the 34 Democrats who sided against health reform in the razor-thin March vote, 21 are no longer in Congress. Some retired, one ran for governor, and most of them lost reelection. That leaves only 13 of the original anti-health-reform Democrats in the House.

While the four Democrats who voted for repeal are still staunchly opposed to the new law, for the rest of their anti-health-reform compatriots, "Obamacare" doesn't seem so bad anymore now that the midterms are over.

Nine Democrats opposed health reform in March and yet are opposing Republican's attempt to repeal it now. They are:

  • Pennsylvania's Jason Altmire
  • Georgia's John Barrow
  • Kentucky's Ben Chandler
  • Texas's Chet Edwards
  • Pennsylvania's Tim Holden
  • Illinois' Dan Lipinski
  • Massachusetts's Stephen Lynch
  • Utah's Jim Matheson
  • North Carolina's Heath Shuler

Updated 3:40 p.m. Larry Kissell was listed with the nine House Democrats who opposed reform but did not vote for repeal.