Washington (CNN) - Five more House Democrats said Tuesday that they will vote against Senate health care legislation, which puts opponents of reform just 11 votes shy of the 216 needed to prevent President Obama from scoring a major victory on his top domestic priority.
An ongoing CNN analysis shows that opposition in the House to the Senate health care plan has reached 205 members.
A total of 27 House Democrats, including nine who supported the House plan in November, have indicated that they would join a unified Republican caucus in opposing the Senate plan, which passed in that chamber December 24 with the minimum required 60 votes.
Nonetheless, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut said Monday after a meeting with rank-and-file Democrats that "the votes are there" to pass the health care bill.
Washington (CNN) - Proponents of health care reform Tuesday are launching a sizable television ad campaign in an effort to sway undecided House Democrats to get them to vote in favor of the legislation.
The $1.4 million ad buy was placed by Health Care for America Now (HCAN) in conjunction with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Catholics United.
"We're on the cusp of making history, and now is the time members of Congress must stand strong and side with us, not the insurance companies," HCAN's National Campaign Manager Richard Kirsch said in a statement. "The health insurance companies have unleashed their armies of lobbyists on Washington and have sunk millions into TV ads designed to derail reform, but Congress can and should ignore the corporate fear mongering and side with the American public."
HCAN represents more than 1,000 smaller organizations nationwide in favor of Democratic health care reform proposals and both the SEIU and AFSCME have long supported health care reform.
The ads will target 17 Democrats who have not publicly announced how they will vote and will run Tuesday through Friday– expected to be the final days of debate on the legislation.
Washington (CNN) - As a vote on health care reform nears, Republican and conservative groups are attempting to defeat the bill by pressuring undecided and vulnerable Democrats to vote against the legislation.
Bob Adams, the executive director of the League of American Voters, tells CNN that his organization will place a $547,000 television ad buy on Monday which will target 21 legislators. The group has spent $330,000 running ads since February 27.
The group has listed on their Web site the name and phone number of every Democrat who voted against the House's health care bill in November, as well as those of the 21 Democrats who voted "yea" in November but may change their vote.
As the phone lines jam, the offices of some of those Democrats are expressing frustration that their constituents may be unable to reach out.
New York Rep. Dan Maffei's press secretary Abby Gardner told CNN that her office was averaging about 500 phone calls per day last week, but that only 20 or so were from constituents in Maffei's district.
"The calls from the district are very mixed pro/for [and] against health care legislation," Gardner said. "The calls from outside of the district are exclusively against health care."
"Unfortunately the call volume makes it difficult for people to get through, and while I think the groups who really generate these calls consider jamming our phone lines a sign of strength and success, it really doesn't do anything to persuade the Rep.'s opinion on how to vote," Gardner said.
Washington (CNN) - The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee heads into the 2010 midterm elections with nearly $17 million in the bank, a Democratic official told CNN.
The committee, which is the campaign arm for House Democrats, raised $55.6 million in 2009, $3.8 million of it in December, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.
The committee has $16.7 million cash on hand, but carries a $2 million debt.
Those figures do not include what Democratic candidates raised over the same period. Individual candidates and political party committees file separate campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.
The Democratic committee's counterpart, National Republican Congressional Committee, has not yet released its final 2009 fundraising numbers.
Washington (CNN) - In the face of a major political upset Tuesday night and with Republican Scott Brown poised to fill Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat – ending the Senate Democrats losing their filibuster proof majority – House Democrats across the political spectrum largely rejected the idea of passing the Senate health care bill.
Liberal New York Democrat Anthony Weiner predicted the Senate bill wouldn't have the votes to pass the House.
Weiner ridiculed House Democratic leaders for holding a meeting to brief House Democrats on negotiations with the White House on a health care bill, telling reporters: "They're talking as if, 'what our deal is, what our negotiators are at the White House.' Yeah, and then the last line is, 'Pigs fly out of my ass' ... It's just, we've got to recognize we are in an entirely different scenario."
Several rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers on the right and the left suggested it may be best now to scrap their big overhaul bill and pass a smaller measure with provisions they can all agree on, such barring discrimination by insurers for those Americans who have pre-existing conditions and closing the donut hole to bring down prescription drug costs. But it's unclear if that option, like other contingency plans Democrats are considering, is doable now.
Weiner argued the Massachusetts results demonstrated that Democrats have to change their strategy on health care.
Washington (CNN) – Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, said Friday that he will formally announce his retirement from Congress this weekend so he can focus on his run for governor next year.
Abercrombie has scheduled a press conference for Sunday.
"I cannot claim the Governorship should be a cornerstone of our democracy and not make the campaign for it the center of all my efforts," Abercrombie said in a statement posted on his campaign Web site.
The 10-term congressman said he already shared his decision with the White House, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other members of Hawaii's congressional delegation. Abercrombie's move will trigger a special election to fill the remainder of his term.
Washington (CNN) – Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kansas, will not run for re-election next year, a senior Democratic aide confirms to CNN.
Moore was first elected in 1998 and easily won a sixth term in 2008 after being targeted for defeat early in his career by the Republican Party.
The Kansas City Star was the first to report Monday the congressman's decision not to seek a seventh term.
CNN has left a message with Moore's office seeking comment.
(CNN) - Florida Rep. Robert Wexler is resigning the seat he's held for 12 years to head up the Washington-based Center for Middle East Peace, the Democratic congressman announced Wednesday.
Wexler, who has proudly described himself as a "fire-breathing liberal," is a also strong defender of Israel.
His district, which includes much of Palm Beach, is heavily Democratic and not expected to be vulnerable for the party next cycle. The Miami Herald reports his announcement has already spurred jockeying from several Florida Democrats who are thinking of making a bid for the seat.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is legally required to call a special election after Wexler formally resigns his seat in January.
Wexler may be best-known nationally for his July 2006 interview on The Colbert Report during which the faux-news host coaxed him to declare: "I enjoy cocaine because... it's a fun thing to do." Colbert said Wexler, who was running unopposed that year, was allowed to say anything he wanted and still get elected.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Top House Democrats on Tuesday slammed insurers who claim that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition that can be used to deny coverage to battered women.
They pledged to incorporate a ban on the practice in the health care reform legislation currently winding its way through Congress.
Forty-two states have already passed such a prohibition, according to a recent report from the National Women's Law Center. Idaho, Mississippi, North
Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and the District of Columbia have not, however.
"Think of this," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "You've survived domestic violence, and now you are discriminated (against) in the insurance market because you have a pre-existing medical condition. Well, that will all be gone."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Democrats split sharply over the issue of health care reform Friday as a key committee chairman said he would not negotiate further with party conservatives worried about spiraling medical costs.
"We're not going to let them empower the Republicans. I don't see any other alternative," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-California.
Waxman's comments came shortly after a representative of a group of fiscally conservative House Democrats urged congressional leaders to slow the pace of health care deliberations.
Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross, a key member of the influential Blue Dog coalition, said he remains concerned that the legislation currently being pushed through the House of Representatives does not do enough to rein in health care inflation.
"This is fundamental change that's going to effect all 300 million people in America," Ross said on CNN's "American Morning."
"Let's not rush it. Let's slow down. Let's get it right and ensure that the American people get the kind of health care that they need and deserve."