A few key ‘yes’ votes

A FEW KEY ‘YES’ VOTES…. When Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) announced this morning that he will support the health care reform bill, it gave reform proponents a helpful boost. But, while Kucinich is the first “no” vote to switch, there were a few other key “yes” vote announcements today.

Representative Dale Kildee, Democrat of Michigan and a strong opponent of abortion, announced on Wednesday that he was satisfied with the provisions in the Senate-passed health care bill that seek to limit the use of federal money for insurance coverage of abortion.

The announcement by Mr. Kildee that he would support the health care legislation and would not oppose it based on the abortion issue gave a huge lift to House Democratic leaders, who have been working to assure abortion opponents that a vote for the bill would not reflect any change in policy on abortion, including the law known as the Hyde amendment, which prohibits the use of federal money for abortion in most cases.

In a statement, Kildee emphasized the fact that he “spent six years studying to be a priest and was willing to devote my life to God.” He added, “I am convinced that the Senate language maintains the Hyde amendment, which states that no federal money can be used for abortion…. We must not lose sight of what is at stake here — the lives of 31 million American children, adults, and seniors who don’t have health insurance. There is nothing more pro-life than protecting the lives of 31 million Americans.”

Kildee has been a close ally of Rep. Bart Stupak, suggesting the Michigan Democrat is struggling to keep his bloc together. (For the record, Stupak never identified exactly which members were/are part of his alleged dozen.)

Kildee’s announcement came on the heels of a statement from Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), another pro-life Dem believed to be an ally of Stupak’s. Oberstar, who said he only supported the reform bill in November because of the Stupak language, said today that he will back the final reform legislation. “I wanted to see the language, understand it better, have conversations with Sen. [Ben] Nelson,” Oberstar said this morning. “On balance, it does what we need to do.”

Now, with Kildee and Oberstar, the reform bill is keeping “yes” votes, rather than gaining “no” votes. But this is every bit as necessary in getting to 216.