Washington (CNN) - Health care reform advocates inched closer to victory Wednesday morning as a high-profile liberal Democrat switched his position and announced his intention to vote for a sweeping $875 billion plan under consideration in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said he believes "health care is a civil right." He had previously characterized the bill, which passed the Senate in December, as little more than a boondoggle for private insurers.
Kucinich was publicly lobbied for his vote by President Barack Obama during the president's visit this week to Kucinich's congressional district in Ohio. He told reporters he's had four meetings with Obama to discuss the bill.
"The president's visit to my district ... underscored the urgency of this vote," Kucinich said. "I have doubts about the bill ... [but] I've decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation."
He said he ultimately had "to make a decision on the bill as it is, not on the bill as I'd like to see it."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, needs 216 votes from her 253-member caucus to pass the measure. No Republicans are expected to back it.
A number of House Democrats have refused to state their voting intentions publicly. Twenty-six House Democrats, however, have indicated they will join Republicans in opposing the Senate plan. Included in that total are five House Democrats who said Tuesday that they will vote against the Senate legislation.
That puts opponents of reform 12 votes shy of the 216 needed to prevent Obama from scoring a major victory on his top domestic priority.
– CNN's Charles Riley, Alan Silverleib, Jeff Simon and Robert Yoon contributed to this report
Yea! I'm very glad Rep. Kicinich has decided to realize this is a good first step. most of us realize that single-payor is the ideal and will someday be accomplished, but we have to start with a foundation to build on. maybe when the republisaurs become extinct, we can do what's right for the American people. Thank you, Dennis!!!
Go Dennis! Go Dennis! Yippee!
"That puts opponents of reform 12 votes shy of the 216 needed to prevent Obama from scoring a major victory on his top domestic priority."
Interesting spin on this...CNN. Why not say that they are 12 votes shy of the 216 that will deny health care to 40 million Americans, and result in higher premiums for the rest of us? We know that the right has only one item on their agenda...defeat ANY Obama plan at any cost. It's the Limbaugh Plan, and they have totally embraced it as the way to win hearts and minds for November. In reality, they are losing steam and they know it, as witnessed by their desperation this week.
All he sold out for was a ride on Airforce-1?
Obama got away on the cheap with this funny looking little man. Your constituents in Ohio should be so proud, Kucinich.
What a surprise. Just goes to show you; they can all be bought. They can go ahead though, with this sham. They will pay for it in spades when people begin to realize how they've been duped by those very people they trusted to represent their interests. Sadly, those "representatives" are representing their OWN interests; not those of their constituents. Even sadder, is the fact that they could have presented us with true reform but were too lazy, greedy, and unconcerned to do it. Instead, we get ripped off once more.
We need to insure that the 26 so called Democrats are DEFEATED in the election.............These folks are Democrates in name only........
Congratulations Rep Kucinich on doing the right thing!!
I wonder what kick-back he got from Obama. As usual a Dem with no principles or morals. And someone needs to tell Kucinich that unless the Bill of Rights and US Constitution have been re-written, healthcare is NOT A RIGHT. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO A PRODUCT.
Kucinich said. "I have doubts about the bill ... [but] I've decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation."
You know this bill sets America up for another overpriced underperforming federal government bureaucracy but you think by expressing your doubts up front you will be excused from voting for it?!?! Serious mistake. Start over. Really, Americans are worth your best effort, not this!
Thank you, Congressman. This bill is not perfect but is the best chance we will get in a generation. The Party of No cares NOTHING about Health Care Reform despite what they say. They will not do it so it must be done NOW!!
I knew after Mr. Kucinich attended that town hall meeting and heard the gentlemen scream out "VOTE YES" that he will sing a different tune. We can not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the necessary.
Thank You . . . . Dennis . . . You are truly AMERICAN
Someone please point to me in the U.S. Constitution where it establishes that health care is a right.
Wonder what the bribe was......
thank you dennis may not be perfect but its a start to good reform
Voting yes is the right thing to do. As I write this, my car has a better auto insurance than I do. Since it's mandatory to buy an auto insurance why can't it be a right or mandatory to have a health care insurance with sensible premiums. You have to be alive to work and own property.
i am terribly dissappointed when a man of great cnviction caves under political pressure. when kucinich supports legislation that he said he could not support after a person conference with the pres., it shows that he lacks the integrity that we attributed to him.
So, it all comes down to partisanship, hmmm. I guess Republicans are satisfied with the status quo, or don't know anyone who can't afford to pay for treatment for serious health problems? Starting over means a long time of continuing what we have now, and too many people can't afford that. I'd venture that many will die, and what's the cost of that?
You just voted yourself out of office!
You just voted against the American people!
Thanks for the people of this country who do not have health insurance with a pre existing condition.
Again thanks Congressman Kucinich.
I love Dennis – come on Dems, let's get this done!
Gee – get to ride in air force one and switch your vote. how interesting.
Wonder what he got in return? He needed campaign money from the Democrat National Committee. Did you notice his pants were on backwards when he announced his decision?
This whole thing reeks of political favors and back room deals. One minute he is against it, the next (after a ride on Air force on to “discuss" things) he is for it. I thought this administration was going to "clean up" Washington, do away with all these special deals and favors. How anyone in their right mind can support not only Kucinich but Obama he beyond me. These people are single handedly ripping apart the integrity of the United States
What a sell out. Wonder what bribe/kickback he was offered on the Air Force One flight? We'll probably never know.
Was this a bought vote or bullied into it?
If this is a civil right, then make sure every individual pays something into it like Canada. Entitlements and taxes don't encourage individuals to work.