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
It's the old adage of voting for the best of the worst. It is not a perfect bill, yet, we will not see another attempt at reigning in health care for a very long time if Democrats lose the Congress. It will be another generation or more before either party decides to bring up the subject at the risk of losing all political capital and the reigns of the government in doing so. Kucinich wanted the public option, a government health exchange and more regulations on private insurers who have proven that they are less than altruistic. Democrats deserve our respect for bringing up the subject a second time at the risk of stirring a conservative hornet's nest and losing government to a midterm election of mad Republican hornets. I admire Kucinich for always holding out for something better, but having enough political acumen to accept what he can get until enough others can see the light and vote accordingly at another time.
Why use the word "flip". The man has the right to change his mind as he wishes.
Thank God for you Congressman Kucinich.
Watcha get Kucinich? Way to stand on your morals and principles. Guess you'll be looking for a job come fall...nice knowing ya.
What a two faced weasel. He has served his last term.
No one can count on the "no votes" from the Democrats. All the President has to do is pay them a little attention (a few bribes don't hurt either) and whisper swet words in their ears and their supposededly strong convictions fly right out the windows. Everyone of them should wear a sign on their shirt "For Sale to highest bidder".
I think its time for our representatives to start lookin g at the needs of their hard working constituents. I was recently layoff and I am very concern about health care. Lets support the president and pass this bill to help the people of this nation. Shame on the folks in power who would deny helping the folks who need it. No bill is perfect and this one will not be, its a continuous process.
....breathing slightly easier. Steady as it goes. Lets get this thing done.
I hope many more change their minds and vote yes for health care for 30 million uninsured Americans and stop these healthcare premiums from sky rocketing.
Say goodbye to his career. This is the worst thing for this country!!
You have doubts about the bill, but you are voting yes???? Are you kidding me??
When are you going to start to listen to the American People. We do not want this monstrosity of a Health Care Bill passed!!! If this bill is passed, there will be “Change We Can Believe In” in November. I know I am not alone when I say all who vote for this mess will be voted out of office come November. The unemployment line will be much longer then with all of the "yes voters" joining the many people who are looking for jobs. Start listening to what we are saying. WE NEED JOBS. WE DO NOT WANT THIS HEALTH CARE BILL PASSED. THIS IS NOT THE REFORM WE WANT, IT WILL COST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TOO MUCH AND WE DO NOT WANT THE GOVERNMENT CONTROLING OUR HEALTH INSURANCE.
Thank you Dennis Kucinich, I wish my congressmen Mark Kirk would have the courage to switch his vote to a yes vote. It's time for him to stand up to his party and do whats good for Americans. Health care should be available to all Americans, but failing that, this bill is better then the status quo.
Health care is NOT a RIGHT.
Welcome to the Commie party.
Government take over of the private sector.
What a weak man! I wonder what Obama promised him or threatened him with?
Voting for something you have doubts about violates the oath you took when you took office. You are a traitor to the USA!
Mr. Kucinich's rationale for switching his vote is right in line with the legislation itself. It is not what the majority of Americans want when it comes to health care reform, but "what the hell," it's better than nothing! We all saw him getting off Air Force 1 with Obama. Is it any wonder? Kucinich can't make a decision by himself without being talked into it? He's probably either been offered some sort of "prize" or he'll be driving an Edsel tomorrow.
His is good as gone changing his mind...what a sell out
I Thought Mr. Kucinich had principals and integrity. He sold his vote for a ride on Air Force 1. I just lost respect.
So it's "not the bill as you'd like to see it" but you're voting for it anyway? Coward! Chicago politics are back in vogue, apparently. Let's vote the scum out this fall and in 2012. So, how's that "hope and change" thing working out for you?
Good Choice, I don't see how as a Democrat you cannot vote for this bill. Is it perfect no, I'd like to see a single payer system, but it's a step in the right direction!
Well looks like the ride on the big plane got him to change his vote. I wonder what else he was offered under the table.
Kucinich gives in to obama strong arm. thats funny how a guy that does not agree with the health bill and doesnt agree with most of the bill now says he will vote for it after the armtwisting. wonder how many other bills that the dems really dont like they vote for. the whole batch of them are just giviing into the insurance companies and yet they claim the reps. are for the insurance compaines. thats why the dems just are going to force us all to buy insurance at the ins. comp. cost without any across boarders comparison. sad no dem will ever get my vote again spinlesss
Congratulations Dennis on voting for a bill that you have doubts about! What.... Did you get a back door promise? Figures!
Sorry but no one is Entitled to afffordable health care or affordable housing. However all citizens are entitled to affordable education, Primary level, then they can apply themselves and earn a living and pay their own way. Those that need a little help can get welfare if needed.
The Federal Government has no business in the Medical business, the Welfare Business and in most cases collecting and disbursing money. Their job is making the Laws as fair as possible so everyone has a level playing field.
I wonder what he got besides a ride on Air Force 1. These guys are all unethical bums.