UNDECIDEDS WATCH…. With the House vote on health care reform likely to come down to a razor-thin margin, it’s not premature to start keeping a very close eye on remarks from on-the-fence Dems, especially those who voted against reform in November, but who may be willing to support the proposal now.
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), for example, who is retiring from Congress this year, opposed the plan last year but is undecided now.
“This is an improvement,” said Baird on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The House bill was better than the status quo, I think the Senate bill is better than that.”
Last fall, Baird opposed the legislation in part because he wanted it to incorporate more Republican ideas. But after the recent health care summit, Baird says he doubts that Republicans are truly interested in negotiating a compromise.
“We don’t have a dance partner,” he said. “They’re not willing to come even a little bit of distance to find common ground because they are so eager to have this as a political weapon in the fall.”
Rep. John Adler (D-N.J.) sounded like a possible no-to-yes switch earlier in the week, but now appears to be out of the picture — so much so that the Democratic leadership isn’t really reaching out to him anymore.
“[Speaker Pelosi has] been very gracious in considering my comments,” Adler said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think she’s looking elsewhere for votes right now.”
But perhaps most encouraging were the remarks this morning from Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), who opposed the legislation in November, but seems close to coming around now.
“I have an open mind,” Altmire said on the same Fox show. “In the end, I have to make a decision between passing this bill – this is the finish line – or doing nothing. I’m weighing the balance.”
Altmire added, “I need to see the reconciliation package, but there’s no question in my mind the Senate bill was much stronger than House bill on cost containment…. I think we have a much better product to work with.”