The search for votes by House Democratic leaders and the White House has intensified. Over the next week and perhaps longer, the pressure to vote yes will be relentless as the Democratic Party inches closer to passing legislation it has been seeking for decades.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), a critic of the Senate measure's language on abortion and a likely no vote, told the National Review Online that the push to pass the bill has "reached an unhealthy stage. People are threatening ethics complaints on me..."
With the election looming, many Democratic centrists in the House have declined to comment on which way they are leaning.
Horsetrading, however, can be a dangerous game when the spotlight is so bright. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) secured language in the upper chamber measure that would have given his state preferential treatment on Medicaid payments. The public, including Nebraska constituents, lashed out against the deal, dubbed the "Cornhusker kickback." Nelson's political stock took a hit and he has since called for it to be scrapped.
Some Democrats have made it plain that they are firmly against the measure. By doing so, these Democrats are hoping to send a message to Pelosi and President Barack Obama: Don't bother with me.
One thing is clear: Tension is rising in the House.
A skittish House Democrat lawmaker who voted no in November repeatedly declined to answer whether he is a yes or no this time around. “You know where I am on this one. You know where I am on this one,” he said.
Asked if marking him as a “no” vote would be incorrect, the lawmaker paused, and then responded, “I haven’t seen any [legislative language] yet!”
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