By Michelle Oddis
The 52 House “Blue Dog” Democrats got an earful from constituents over the August recess (at least those who had the courage to hold town hall meetings did). Now they’re back. And whether they like it or not, they hold the deciding votes on most of the president’s agenda.
What everyone wants to know is will Blue Dogs bow to White House and leadership pressure and vote for any bill that House Speaker … Nancy Pelosi puts forth? Will Obama’s joint session speech tonight seal the deal?
Although the Blue Dogs have previously voted in lockstep with Pelosi’s demands by 78% in the 111th Congress, we saw a break away with the Cap and Trade vote, with only 44% of them voting for it. The House needs 218 votes to pass a healthcare bill this month as Pelosi has pledged to do. With all 255 Democrats voting, in order to defeat the bill, assuming all Republicans vote against it, at least 40 Blue Dogs would have to vote “no” as well. Then again, if the public option and other liberal goodies are taken out of the bill Pelosi runs the risk of losing liberal Democrats as well.
To top all that, many Blue Dogs will be facing re-election and have been targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for the 2010 elections. After what has been an unprecedented “summer of discontent” with tension rising all over the nation concerning healthcare the Blue Dogs vote on this issue could make them more vulnerable then ever before come campaign time.
HUMAN EVENTS has followed the 52 Blue Dogs Democrats recent comments at town hall events, examined their prior vote on the fiscally irresponsible Cap and Trade legislation, talked to district sources, and in some cases evaluated their stance on pro-life issues (since many Blue Dogs have stated they will not support any reform bill that uses taxpayer funds for abortions) to make a prediction on their upcoming vote on government run healthcare when they return to Congress.
We found that 28 Blue Dogs are likely to vote for any initiative that Pelosi brings forward, and 24 are likely vote against. Republicans will have to hope that the Administrations proposal is too moderate for at least 16 liberal members in order to defeat any healthcare reform legislation brought forward in the next month.
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D. Sd) Leader of the Blue Dog Coalition: Sandlin at a Chamber of Congress luncheon on September 1 said “I don’t know that we’re going to get to 100 percent universal coverage on legislation that may pass this Congress, but I think we’ll take some steps in the right direction and we have to be willing to accept half a loaf, even if we can’t get everybody covered.” Sandlin voted against Cap and Trade but has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America and has received large fundraising donations from Emily’s List, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood. Sandlin has said that Obama “should tell the nation: ‘We cannot achieve what many people had hoped at the outset, and we should be ready to strike a deal.”’ It is likely after Obama’s Joint Session Wednesday Sandlin will bow to any Pelosi proposals.
Rep. Baron Hill (IN-09), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy: Hill voted for the first healthcare bill out of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and he also voted for Cap and Trade. According to a local district paper the Courier-Journal Hill said “he can support a measure with or without a public health insurance option or purchasing cooperatives as long as everybody is covered and there’s no pre-existing conditions” Hill recently said that town hall protestors are “committing political terrorism.” He will likely vote yes on any healthcare bill Pelosi presents.
Rep. Charlie Melancon (LA-03), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications: Melancon voted against a Democrat-backed health plan in committee and is likely to vote against anything containing a public option due to his recent announcement to run against Republican Sen. David Vitter. Melencon has been targeted by the NRCC and is vulnerable already for his 2010 campaign. ‘It’s appearing more likely that he’ll break with his party and oppose President Barack Obama’s controversial health-care plan should it come to a vote on the House floor,” reports a Louisiana news website HoumaToday. Melencon will vote with Republicans.
Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11), Blue Dog Whip: Shuler is one of the more conservative members of the Blue Dog coalition. Shuler, as of August 19, said that he does not support HR3200, but Shuler did vote for Cap and Trade. He is likely a to vote with Republicans — but being the Whip of the Blue Dog Coalition — should Shuler vote for Pelosi’s bill it is likely that more will follow suit. Shuler is a major player and his actions and statements after Obama’s Joint Sessions address should be watched carefully as they will reflect on the Blue Dogs as a group. HUMAN EVENTS predicts that Shuler will vote with Republicans.
Altmire, Jason (PA-04) Altmire voted against HR3200 before the House Education and Labor Committee, but said at his only open forum town hall meeting he would vote for a bill that pays for itself without raising taxes and did more to help small businesses according to local paper the Post Gazzette. Altimire voted against Cap and Trade and proclaims to be a pro-life Democrat. Altimire could break with Pelosi and vote with Republicans.
Arcuri, Mike (NY-24) Arcuri supports a public option and according to the New York Times said “I can’t tell you how comprehensive it will be, but I do believe something will get passed.” Arcuri voted against Cap and Trade. His office reports that his district is split 50/50 for and against a government run healthcare reform, but sources claim that Arcuri has accepted funds from people working from the medical industry and private insurance companies that oppose government run reform. Arcuri could break from Pelosi and vote with Republicans.
Baca, Joe (CA-43) Baca has signed statements that he will support a public option. A local paper reports that Baca said via phone conference in his district this August that “Obama wants to lead us in a new direction ‘adding that the president wants to make sure all Americans have health insurance coverage even if they have pre-existing conditions.’” Baca voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 NARAL Pro Choice America rating of 100%. Baca will vote with Pelosi.
Barrow, John (GA-12) Barrow voted against the bill in committee and voted against Cap and Trade. District sources tell HUMAN EVENTS there is a good chance Barrow will stand strong and vote against any form of government run healthcare.
Berry, Marion (AR-01) Berry says that more “gravy” needs to be taken out of the insurance and pharmaceutical part of the bill. “Everybody recognizes we’re going to have to change some things. They just want to be able to express their opinion about how it needs to be done,” said Berry. Berry voted against Cap and Trade — and has 0% rating from NARAL. Berry with vote with Pelosi
Bishop, Sanford (GA-02) Bishop supports a “public option,” and at a town hall Bishop said he “would ultimately cast his health care vote on the basis of what he thinks are the best interests of his constituents. That sometimes means voting by consensus, and sometimes by conscience.” Bishop voted for Cap and Trade and has a 30% rating from NARAL. District sources confirm that Bishop will likely vote for any healthcare legislation that Pelosi presents.
Boren, Dan (OK-02) “I am a no vote,” Boren said, according to The Oklahoman on August 19. Boren voted against Cap and Trade and has a 0% rating from NARAL. Republicans can count on Boren to vote against healthcare measures from Pelosi.
Boswell, Leonard (IA-03) “We haven’t seen the final (bill) and you know it’s very likely, it’s very possible — I’m not going to say ‘likely’ because I want this to move forward — it’s very possible it could be something I can’t vote for,” Boswell has said to local papers. Boswell voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 NARAL Pro Choice America rating of 100%. Boswell will vote with Pelosi.
Boyd, Allen (FL-02) According to the Politico Boyd has held 14 town hall meetings in the month of August. Boyd voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 NARAL Pro Choice America rating of 100%. Boyd has publicly stated that he will not vote for the current version of the reform bill in the House. Boyd is highly targeted by the GOP for 2010, but according to district sources he will vote with Pelosi.
Bright, Bobby (AL-02) According to a local news website DonthanEagle.com, Bright said he “still plans to vote against any of the five versions of the health care reform bill circulating through the House and Senate unless significant changes are made.” Bright is alsohighly targeted by the GOP for 2010. The NRCC has recently aired ads blasting Bright’s record and asking that Bright sign a petition to promise not to vote for Pelosi as Speaker of the House again. Due to his vulnerability Bright will vote with Republicans.
Cardoza, Dennis (CA-18) Cardoza has not held a town hall meeting. He voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 NARAL Pro Choice America rating of 100%. Cardozo also recently visited with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who came to California to “take pressure off some of the newer House members.” Cardoza seems to be in good shape for re-election and will vote with Pelosi.
Carney, Christopher (PA-10) Carney has held four town hall meeting and has said he “knows the final bill we vote on won’t be the same bill we see now” Carney said that a public option wont make or break the way he votes. Carney is another top target for Republicans in 2010. He is seated in the most Republican district in Pennsylvania. His district was carried by a Republican from 1960 until 2006 when a tragic and serious Republican scandal hit the district putting a Democrat in office. Carney will vote with Republicans.
Chandler, Ben (KY-06) Local papers report that Chandler has “stayed vague” on health care reform. Chandler voted for Cap and Trade and has a 100% anti-life voting record from NARAL in 2007. Chandler is one of the Blue Dogs targeted by the NRCC for 2010 and a series of ads urging Chandler to vote against Obama’s health care plan have aired via radio. District sources say that Chandler has statewide political ambitions and due to this will vote with Republicans.
Childers, Travis (MS-01) At the beginning of recess Childers said “he would not vote for a House health care reform bill in its current form.” Childers voted against Cap and Trade and is a pro life Democrat. According to the Lexington Hereld Leader he “was accused of avoiding unruly crowds of reform opponents by doing his town hall meeting by conference call. But he has held public forums and said he reached 7,200 people on the night of Aug. 18, at least 2,000 of them for the entire hour long session.” Childers won his seat by special election in 2008. Local sources suggest to avoid trouble in 2010 Childers should deny Pelosi support on all issues. Childers will vote with Republicans.
Cooper, Jim (TN-05) Cooper supports legislation that doesn’t include public option. Copper voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 30% rating by NARAL Pro Choice America — Cooper will vote with Pelosi.
Costa, Jim (CA-20) “What ultimately we do will be more modest than what came out of the Energy (and Commerce) Committee,” said Costa to local paper the Fresno Democrat. Costa has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. He voted against Cap and Trade and is good shape for re election. Costa also visited with Minority Leader Steny Hoyer over August recess. Costa will vote with Pelosi on any healthcare initiative she presents.
Cuellar, Henry (TX-28) A local news website mysanantonio.com writes that one out of three people in Cuellar’s district, which covers all or parts of 12 counties do not have health insurance, making the district sixth-worst in the country. Cuellar voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Cuellar will vote with Pelosi.
Dahlkemper, Kathy (PA-03) Freshman Dahlkemper is firm that some type of health legislation will be enacted this year. “I’m tired of people kicking this problem down the road,” she said to the Erie Times News “we need to keep talking and stop kicking.” Dahlkemper voted against Cap and Trade but will be under a lot of pressure from big labor and is likely to vote with Pelosi.
Davis, Lincoln (TN-04) “If there’s anything in this legislation that takes away your ability to have access to your private insurance company that you have today or prohibit it in the future I will vote against this bill.” said Davis at a Townhall meeting. Davis has a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee and voted “no” on Cap and Trade. Davis will vote with Republicans.
Donnelly, Joe (IN-02) Donnelly was non committal although he faced tough crowds at town hall meetings. Donnelly voted against Cap and trade and is a pro-life Democrat. Donnelly is not facing any serious challengers for 2010 and district sources say he will vote with Republicans.
Ellsworth, Brad (IN-08) Ellsworth has held a number of telephone town halls but is “officially undecided” about how he’ll vote. Ellsworth says he is certain he will oppose any proposal for a single-payer universal health care system “We can’t continue on the path we’re on,” he told the Courier & Press earlier early August. Ellsworth voted against Cap and Trade but has no strong challengers in his district. Sources say Ellsworth may vote with Republicans.
Giffords, Gabrielle (AZ-08) Giffords has held three town hall meetings. She told the audience she was “not defending, much less supporting HR3200.” Gifford has stated she does not support a single-payer option where government would control all the country’s health insurance, like the system in Canada and will not vote for anything “that is not actually paid for.” Giffords voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Despite her rhetoric, Giffords will vote with Pelosi.
Gordon, Bart (TN-06) Gordon has held atleast two town hall meetings and according to the Washington Post said that more of his constituents are “coming home to Republicans and he has to remain independent.” “People in my district want me to be independent,” said Gordon. Gordon voted for Cap and Trade. Gordon is another NRCC target for 2010 due to campaign pressure may vote with Republicans.
Griffith, Parker (AL-05) Griffith has received much attention lately for his comment at a town hall meeting that he would not vote for Pelosi as Speaker of the House again. “Someone that divisive and that polarizing cannot bring us together,” said Griffith. He opposed the stimulus and voted against Cap and Trade. Griffith will vote with Republicans.
Harman, Jane (CA-36) Harman, in a statement, said she supports a public option. “I will oppose any plan that does not include this option, and am unwavering in my opposition to the so-called ‘Blue Dog trigger,'” said Harman. “I am proud to have signed the HCAN (Health Care for America Now!) pledge to seek universal coverage.” Harman will vote with Pelosi.
Holden, Tim (PA-17) Has said that he would not support any reform bill that uses taxpayer funds for abortions and is opposed to any public option proposal would have to avoid giving the federal government a leg up against private companies. “It can’t be a plan that gives the government a competitive advantage,” Holden said to a local paper. Holden Voted against Cap and Trade and has a 2007 rating from NARAL Pro Choice America of 50%. Holden’s district has tended to lean more Republican. Holden may vote with Republicans.
Kratovil, Jr., Frank (MD-01) Freshman Rep. Kratovil has said that he does not support universal healthcare bills as they are currently written but he would not promise to vote against any measure that Pelosi presents after several constituents asked if he would. Kratovil voted for Cap and Trade and is likely to vote with Pelosi.
Sanchez, Loretta (CA-47) Sanchez has signed a statement that she supports a public option. “America can’t afford to wait for health care reform. While a single-payer system would be ideal, I am prepared to support other measures that also reduce costs, preserve doctor choice, and assure affordable, quality health care for all Americans,” she said in a statement. “I think a public option without a trigger would be a good way to fix what’s wrong with health care while preserving what works.” Sanchez voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Sanchez will vote with Pelosi.
McIntyre, Mike (NC-07) McIntyre, who has still not held a public town hall meeting, has said that he is not yet convinced that the public option is the way to go with “the federal budget right now, we’re not in a position we can afford it.” McIntyre voted against Cap and Trade. Taking heat from liberals McIntrye is quoted in his hometown paper, The Robesonian of Lumberton, saying “This bill provides medical benefits for illegal aliens. I can’t say it any more directly. That is absolutely unacceptable.” McIntyre has been called a true Blue Dog by HUMAN EVENTS sources and will vote with Republicans.
Marshall, Jim (GA-03) According to Marshall’s Spokesman Doug Moore “Jim supports fiscally responsible health care reform. He is opposed to the House bill in its present form and does not believe it will become law.” Marshall voted against Cap and Trade and is a pro life Democrat. Marshall will vote with Republicans.
Matheson, Jim (UT-02) Matheson voted against the Democratic Health Care bill in committee. So far Matheson has not held town-hall meetings and received harsh criticism from his constituency because of this. Matheson voted against Cap and Trade but has a 2007 30% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Matheson is a devote Mormon and will likely vote with Republicans.
Michaud, Mike (ME-02) Michaud has stressed that he will not decide how to vote on the House bill until it is in its final form. He has held a handful of town halls. Michaud voted for Cap and Trade and received a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Michaud will vote with Pelosi.
Minnick, Walt (ID-01) Minnick has held town halls and meet and greats with his constituents to answer questions on reform. At one session Minnick answered a question about the existing healthcare reform legislation “We’re going to go back to work on it starting in two weeks,” said Minnick. “And unless it gets changed, I won’t vote for it. I’m not going to vote for a bill that worsens the deficit. Health care has got to pay for itself. Minnick voted against Cap and Trade but is Pro Choice. Minnick though is also highly targeted in 2010 and is a Democrat in the most Republican district in the country. Minnick will vote with Republicans.
Mitchell, Harry (AZ-05) “If we could have a public option that is truly competitive, then I would support it,” Mitchell said to his local paper the State Press. Harry Mitchell has not held any town hall meetings but had telephone conferences. Mitchell has remained out of the spotlight on this issue. He voted against Cap and Trade but received a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Mitchell is in a very Republican district and is highly targeted for 2010. Mitchell may vote with Republicans.
Moore, Dennis (KS-03) Moore Canceled his town hall meeting angering many constituents. Moore claimed it was because of concerns for his own safety. Moore has said he supports a House version of health-care reform, HR3200, including a public option within reform plans. Moore voted for Cap and Trade and received a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Moore will vote with Pelosi.
Murphy, Patrick (PA-08) Murphy has yet to hold an “official” or large town hall meeting but has traveled to visit with healthcare professionals, businesses and senior citizens. Murphy also supports the public option component. Murphy told a constituent that his family would go on the public option. A local paper the Courier Times states that “Murphy said he has more of the small town hall-type meetings planned to discuss the proposed health reform. And anyone is welcome to attend…But Murphy’s upcoming health reform meetings were not posted on his Congressional Web site and the Courier Times was unsuccessful in obtaining a list of his scheduled events on Tuesday. Murphy voted for Cap and Trade and received a 2007 100% rating from NARAL. Murphy will vote with Pelosi.
Nye, Glenn (VA-02) Freshman Nye held a healthcare panel with Republican Congressman Rob Wittman, both “agreed the most recent legislation in the US House of Representatives is not the answer for Americans, particularly the portion that creates a public government insurance option,” according to WAVY-TV. Nye voted against Cap and Trade. “I think we’ve charged up enough on the government credit card under a number of administrations,” Nye said to a group of business owners according to the Daily Press. Nye will vote with Republicans.
Peterson, Collin (MN-07) Just this week Peterson has called on Obama to specify key changes in his healthcare reform. In a forum that was meant to resemble a town hall according to the Minnesota Post Peterson said “Obama needs to take the middle ground and fix underlying problems with health care — such as funding Medicare — or else no piece of legislation that passes will likely work.” Peterson voted for Cap and Trade and has no strong challengers for 2010, he will vote with Pelosi on any healthcare initiative.
Pomeroy, Earl (ND) “Obviously, if you are from an area like North Dakota, that gets 50th in pay on the rate medicare pays, that would be a financial catastrophe to the quality of healthcare we have in North Dakota. Literally you would have hospitals close, doctors move away and we are not going to accept that,” says Pomeroy to KFYR-TV. Pomeroy has held only telephone conference to address his constituents. Pomeroy voted against Cap and Trade but has a 2007 %100 percent rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Pomeroy will likely vote with Pelosi.
Ross, Mike (AR-04) Ross was very vocal in the healthcare bill stall initiated by Blue Dogs before the August recess has said recently “At the end of the day, I think the liberals will be screaming and saying that we didn’t do enough and conservatives will be screaming and say that we did too much.” Ross voted against Cap and Trade but received a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Ross has stated that he doesn’t believe the bill will include a public option. “”I have small-business owners that tell me that they need a place that they and their employees can go to purchase affordable health insurance,” Ross said. “And that’s one of the things that I think we’ve got to do, and I think that we’ll be successful,” said Ross at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public services. Ross will likely vote with Pelosi.
Salazar, John (CO-03) Salazar held a “round table discussion” as well as a telephone conference on healthcare but questioned the “value of the rowdy town halls because neither chamber of Congress has yes to decide what bill to consider, according to Forbes. As of Sep. 4 Salazar is reported to be undecided. “We don’t even know what we’re commenting on,” Salazar told local papers Steamboat Pilot & Today. Salazar voted against Cap and Trade. He has a 2007 NARAL Pro Choice America voting record of 100% but may vote with Republicans.
Schiff, Adam (CA-29) “We have got to move forward in reforming the system. I don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good,” said who faced almost 3’000 at a town hall meeting on healthcare that is reported to have gotten very rowdy. “But I do think this is a test of the country. Do we still have the ability to get reasonable minds together and reach a reasonable decision? I think if we are successful, we will look back on this period … and say we did a good thing as a country,” said Schiff. Schiff voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Schiff will vote with Pelosi.
Scott, David (GA-13) The New York Times reports that Scott said “his determination to enact a health care overhaul had been increased over the recess because of what he called the spread of misinformation and other unfair tactics engaged in by the opposition.” Scott faced several angry constituents during a town hall and lost his tempter of a few occasions. Scott voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. Serveral Georgia blogs and constituent comments show little confidence in Scott voting against Pelosi’s healthcare reform and he can be counted on voting with liberal Democrats.
Space, Zack (OH-18) Space who has only held telephone conferences has said that he won’t support an “extreme leftist socialist medicine’ plan or one that completely overhauls the current system,”’ according to local paper the Coshocton Tribune. Space is extremely vulnerable in his district and the NRCC its Chairman Michael Steele to campaign against Space in his district on Thursday. Space’s potential 2010 GOP opponent has held her own town hall meetings. Space voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. HUMAN EVENTS sources report that Space is product of the Democrat machine and will vote with Pelosi.
Tanner, John (TN-08) Tanner, who held two telephone conference with his constituents on healthcare voted against Cap and Trade but has a 2007 rating of 100% from NARAL Pro Choice America. Tanner will vote with Pelosi.
Taylor, Gene (MS-04) A local paper reports that Taylor said while addressing constituents that “he does not oppose the entire scope of the president’s bill, and that “it would be better if the government could just vote on sections of the bill, instead of accepting it as a whole.” Taylor voted against Cap and Trade and has a rating of 0% from NARAL Pro Choice America. Gene Taylor’s voting record shows him to be a true Blue Dog and that he will remain loyal to his constituents. Taylor could vote with Republicans.
Thompson, Mike (CA-01) Thompson voted for Cap and Trade and has a 2007 100% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America. The Sacramento Bee reports that Thompson supports a public option in healthcare reform. As long as Pelosi’s bill is liberal enough, Thompson will vote with her.
Wilson, Charles (OH-06) Wilson voted against Cap and Trade and has a 2007 0% rating from NARAL Pro Choice America but Wilson’s district is mainly Democrat. Wilson has only held telephone conference to talk about healthcare reform with his constituents and will vote with Pelosi on any initiative she presents.