March 17th, 2010
10:33 AM ET
13 years ago

Key liberal congressman flips to 'yes' on health care vote

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced Wednesday that he would vote to support Democratic health care legislation."]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

Filed under: Dennis Kucinich • Health care • Popular Posts
soundoff (244 Responses)
  1. Phil Muse

    Bravo, Dennis Kucinich! The present bill may not be perfect (and let's hope the final version provides for a Medicare buy-in or some sliding scale for out-of-pocket payments by the uninsured), but it's vital not to let health care reform be drailed by the opponents of progress and the special interests.

    And by the way, with all the speculation in the media about Democrats putting their careers on the line by supporting health care reform, what about the dangers for the opponents? And why are no Republicans expected to support the measure? Has no one considered how unatural it is for ALL the members of any party to be 100 per cent for or against any measure? Once again, we have to ask ourselves just who the "Enforcer" is for today's GOP.

    March 17, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Dr. Virginia Lubell

    I admire Dennis Kucinich and absolutely believe all the BIG bills coming from the White House should be stronger and less Free Market driven. I also believe something must change at some point to commence the realignment so that 'The Market Serves' rather than 'The Market Rules'.

    And I am totally angry with media who has NOT distinguished between the opposition who wants a less market driven reform and those who want health care to be profit-driven. Instead media has lumped the opposition together and then linked it to The Tea Party and Republicans. That couldn't be further from the truth ... naughty, naughty!

    March 17, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. jm for sc

    No true Democrat will help Republican block this bill. Democratic voters should vote this people out of office as they have placed politics over the needs of many people who are without health care.

    The Republicans are constantly using the phrase, "The American people has rejected this bill." I would like to know where are the people from who are in support of this bill?

    A young lady who recently lost her job had open heart surgery. Although they performed the surgery, the doctor has refused to continue caring for her because she does not have insurance.

    Democrats, poor people and non-whites are American people as well.

    March 17, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. Randy

    What upset me most about his speech was that he said he spoke to the president, party leaders, his wife and friends before deciding on how he was going to vote. I guess I would talk to and listen to the voters in my district then decide how to vote. Now we know how he makes his decisions.

    March 17, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    You got to pay to play right Dennis.

    Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.

    March 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. JES

    So if the President told you it's a good idea for you to stand in front of a train you would do that too.

    The voters don't want more debt can't you people don't understand that if not why are you there.

    Look forward to the 2010 elections we might get people in office that will listen to the voters.

    Get out here in the real world and listen to the voters not the President that he just wants a check in the box no matter what it costs the tax payers.

    March 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Dennis

    Kucinich said. "I have doubts about the bill ... [but] I've decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation."

    So you have doubts about the bill, yet you're going to vote in favor of it????

    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."

    If the bill is not the bill you'd like to see, then why vote in favor of it?

    How about trying something new as a politician, actually voting for your own convictions, morals and for what the citizens in your district want?

    March 17, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. Illini

    Stinkin coward - You have "doubts" about the bill.....BUT.....he'll vote for it. Why? Because he got to ride on Air Force One. Yipppeeeee!

    Vote em all out!

    March 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. Ken

    I wish Democrats would all vote in block sometimes as the republicans do. The difference is, Democratcs have liberals, moderates and conservative liberals in thier party. And when a member of the more conservative of the democratic party votes different that the rest of thier party, "we" (the democrats) dont go after them with the fury as the far right wing side of the republican party does of those in thier rank and file that vote outside thier party. The far right of the republican party is running the table, hence the "tea party".. What a joke the republican party has become.

    March 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Skeets McGillicutty

    Kucinich is going to vote for the Senate bill that he previously characterized as "little more than a boondoggle for private insurers!"

    March 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. PulSamsara

    Pass Health Care Reform NOW !

    America does not have time for the cynical message proposed by the Party of No.

    Sell your -dark- fears elsewhere.

    March 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. pau76fau

    What a joke! So much for voting on your convictions!

    March 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Stuttrboy

    Maybe the Dems will finally grow a backbone and get something done this session.

    March 17, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Gale

    What he really meant was: "When the President visited my district" I got what I wanted from him to change my vote!!

    March 17, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. kapechi

    This man is a fool. Why anyone listens to him or covers him as though he were newsworthy is amazing to me. The little guy needs to go home and let someone with a real brain have his seat.

    March 17, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. lorraine kotraba

    as exoected dennis kucinich speaks through both sides of his mouth.
    He is voting yes on Obamacare. What a hypocrite!!

    March 17, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. MR Independent

    I wonder what Obama offered or threatened in the closed door meeting, This administrations motto: "Transparency- Chicago Style".

    March 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. john

    Kucinich doesn't care about families, including his own because it will eventually impact them nor does he care about his staff. Once he's ousted his staffers will be lined up at unemployment s as well. Woud you hire anyone who said the workd for him........??? Anyone voting for this illegal monley laundering scheme, their namje will be Mudd, and anyone associated this them as well. Live now Dennis, but pay later..........

    March 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  19. Karen

    Cheap date!

    March 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. SoCalGal

    This is exactly why politics should play no role in healthcare–suddenly a bill should be apprpoved just because they were bought. IF A PROPOSED HEALTHCARE BILL WERE ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY INTELLIGENT AND SOLID, THERE WOULD BE NO PROBLEM PASSING IT THROUGH...EVERYONE WOULD SUPPORT IT INCLUDING THE 80% OF AMERICANS WHO DON'T WANT THE CURRENT BILL. Whatever happened to Washington representing the people?????

    March 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Jim Waite

    Go Dennis!

    March 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. Marty, FL

    Thank you, Rep. Kucinich! The health-care bill is a step in the right direction and can be built upon going forward for our country.

    God bless America!

    March 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. John

    Only thing worse than a lousy politician is a lousy politician with no backbone.

    March 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. Todd

    notice that republicons are not trying to do something good for the nation, they are trying to prevent the president from doing something good, and therefore getting a major victory.

    Translated - they want to stop good things so they can point fingers at the president. They want all of us to sufer as their political tactic, as if they had not hurt Americans enough while they were in control. .

    March 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. Jeffrey Doss

    It is sad to see that when one of our elected officials has an opinion that is not that of the political leaders they are courted and pressured until they change their "opinion."

    March 17, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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