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GOP Targeting Democrats to Change Their Votes on Health Care Bill

4 years ago
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Rep. Eric Cantor, the second-ranking Republican in the House, has identified 37 House Democrats who he believes are considering abandoning the health care reform bill that they voted for in November. "This bill can be defeated," he said Wednesday.

Cantor, a conservative from Virginia, said that he is targeting Democrats who represent districts that are "particularly upset" about the health care bill. "We're going to go about the next week to two weeks -- whenever it is -- doing whatever we can to bring the members in the middle on the other side over to us in opposition to this health care bill," Cantor said.

Several other House Republicans said that they had already spoken with Democrats who they believe may consider switching their votes. "I've spoken with a number of Democrats, but none of them want me to discuss that publicly," said Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) "I think as the economy goes further and further South and as the details of this get out.... I think the prospects are that there are 37 or more Democrats who are having second thoughts about this particular bill, now that we're down to the final details."

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) declined to say which Democrats he has spoken with but said he knows several are "really struggling" with their votes. "Of course we talk to them, they're friends... But you don't out friends."

The House passed the health care bill in early November by a vote of 220 to 215, with 214 Democrats and one Republican voting for it. Since then, the Senate passed a narrower version of the bill, without a public option and with a 40 percent excise tax on expensive insurance plans.

Those changes, along with differences on abortion funding language and the treatment of illegal immigrants, have riled House Democrats who say they do not want to simply accept the Senate's version of the measure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been directly involved in negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the White House in merging the two bills, including during a meeting at the White House Wednesday. Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have assured their members that they will not acquiece to the Senate's demands just to pass a bill.

Gallup's most recent poll shows that Democrats largely support the measure and Republicans oppose it, just 39 percent of independents support it, while 54 percent of independents do not want it to pass. Polls in more Republican districts and more conservative states, like Arkansas and Nebraska, show it is even less popular.

When asked if talk of Democrats switching their votes is just Republican posturing or a real possibility, Shadegg said, "I think this is very real."

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) added, "If they had the votes, they'd be voting on it today."

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