Health Care Bill Passes, 220-215; Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn Win Big One For Obama (Kratovil Votes No)

Posted on November 8, 2009


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Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Whip James Clyburn, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer

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We saw democracy in action tonight. Democracy is not a sure thing. How small is the margin between success and failure.  Between victory and defeat. Progress and regression. How many votes to change history? Whose effort turns the battle? Whose vote moves civilization forward?

Tonight the vote was 220-215 to pass the health care bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. For a list of how each member of the House voted, (and how much money each member received from the health industry) see The Washington Post.

President Barack Obama began to deliver on the change he promised. The president rallied his party at a Democratic caucus meeting Saturday morning. Democrats responded by voting 219 for health care, 39 against. One lonely Republican Rep. Anh Cao of Louisiana, the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress, voted in favor of health care. Every other Republican found some reason to vote against health care.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina were the Democratic leaders who rallied the votes to pass health care.

Maryland is well-represented in the House leadership. Emerging from the caucus with President Obama Saturday morning, Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland and Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County were among a handful of leaders (fewer than a dozen) reporting to the American people on national television. And the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, is a Maryland native from a prominent Baltimore political family.

And then there’s Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil, one of the 39 Democrats who voted on the wrong side of history. But Kratovil is one of the elite few congressmen who play basketball with President Obama, so Kratovil may yet make something of himself in Washington.

Five votes made the difference. A swing of three votes would have brought an opposite outcome. In 50 years, Americans will look back and wonder how ANYONE could have voted against health care.

— Bernie Hayden