In Wake of Brown Victory, Democrats Back Off Push For Health Care Reform


The usual suspects are arguing that, despite losing today's Massachusetts special election—and thus their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate—Congressional Democrats should press forward with health care reform, presumably by convincing House members to vote for the Senate bill as is. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has signaled her desire to go forward with the bill. But numerous Democratic legislators are already expressing wariness at the idea.

The biggest surprise comes from New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, up until now a stalwart reform supporter. According to Politico, Weiner gave the following cautious statement: "The only way to go forward is to take a step back. If there isn't any recognition that we got the message and we are trying to recalibrate and do things differently, we are not only going to risk looking ignorant but arrogant."

Politico also quotes Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth as saying "I cannot imagine, from one person, one member from Indiana, that this House would accept the Senate bill as is."

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News reports New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney saying that "If [Coakley] loses, it's over."

And according to TPM, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb released the following strong statement:

"In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated."

Given that the House initially passed health care reform with only two votes to spare, this suggests that, regardless of their stated determination to move forward with the bill, Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership may have no choice but to throw in the towel.

Update: IBD's David Hogberg has more. As does Real Clear Politics' Tom Bevan, who writes that MSNBC political correspondent Norah O'Donnell "reports that just about every Democratic House member she's talked to says they do not have the appetite to pass the Senate bill as is."

Update 2: And here's Barney Frank: "Our respect for Democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened." Philip Klein thinks this may be ObamaCare's deathblow.