Of Free Votes and Democratic “Revolts”

So House Republicans predictably voted en masse for the Upton bill “fixing” Obamacare by completely reopening the pre-ACA individual health insurance market. The bigger news, which we’ll hear about all weekend, is that 39–literally dozens!–House Democrats voted for the sucker as well. (It will get far less attention that a Democratic effort to allow for the consideration of a proposal modeled on Obama’s proposal appears to have carried all but 8 Democrats).

In any event, on a “free vote” cast in the secure knowledge that Upton’s bill ain’t going anywhere in the Senate, 39 Democrats took advantage of an opportunity to separate themselves from the White House on a highly technical bill advertised as a “fix” rather than sabotage.

That’s not good for the White House, but as Greg Sargent shrewdly noted, 35 House Democrats voted back in July for a GOP bill to delay the employer health insurance mandate by a year, another piece of veto bait that amounted to a free vote. And the same day, 22 House Democrats voted for a profoundly destructive bill delaying the individual mandate for a year.

That sort of thing is going to happen, and the administration is lucky it doesn’t really matter.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.