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. CRM

    We the United States must be the laughing stock of the world. A "super world power" fighting about giving their citizens a basic human right. Where was the debate when year after year the health insurance premiuns sky-rocketed and no one said a word? So my question is what really's behind this debate over healthcare?

    March 17, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. Kat

    I wonder what he got. I'm sure he was bought off. This is such a joke. They need to start over. We simply can't afford the plan much less all the deals we'll be paying for.

    March 17, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. Monrob

    I hope I am wrong, but I think this bill will be defeated. And it is Obama's fault. He is no leader.

    March 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Tommy P

    If this doesnt pass, I wonder if all those who voted no or refused to vote for it will cry when the unisured start to die because they cant afford health insurance?

    March 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  5. indy

    I'm sure the meetings with the President were cordial and friendly. HA! They were probably more arm twisting and expensive promises for yet another member of Congress.

    March 17, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Nick T

    I'm preparing my immigration papers to New Zealand!! Thanks for eliminating any remaining doubt that your an idiot Dennis! Best of luck to you saps that stay around and live with this cr@p 🙂

    March 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. Rob

    "opponents of reform" is NOT a fair characterization of the folks voting against this bill. Perhaps you should use opponents of socialization, perhaps you should use opponents of destroying private sector industry, or perhaps simply sensible people. This bill is a boondoggle, a government takeover and anything but 'reform'. Reform seems to indicate some sort of improvement, this is a disaster waiting to happen.

    March 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. Chad

    I'll register to vote for the first time since I turned 18. I'm now 30. I'll vote him right out of office.

    March 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. Seth Cold

    HMMM wonder what it cost the taxpayers in monetary promises, if he changed his vote. Just don't trust these maybe's, if's, or what's.

    March 17, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. e.c.coleman

    Dennis Kucinich is a weasel, and
    everyone knew this would happen.

    Kucinich just wanted "attention."

    Thinks he's big and important since he's actually discussed
    the Bill with this so-called, lying president.
    Maybe he even got to see the Oval Office for once in his lifetime.

    BIG DEAL!!!

    Kucinich will not be around after the next election......good riddance!

    March 17, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Bob Ramos

    On Fox I saw where Peloski had 211 votes about 7 AM CDT. With this vote, she has 212 votes – 4 shy of what the Democrats need. If Obama cannot round up 4 more votes, then he has to pack it in. But he will.

    In the Senate, the reconciliation procedure will be used regardless of what the Republicans say.

    If the GOP wants any input, they had better get on the stick and instead of fighting the bill, improve it.

    March 17, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. Murphfa

    And what did they promise him?

    March 17, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. nitzie

    Mark one more down the tubes for not listening to his voters.

    March 17, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Brian Johnson

    Way to go Senator Kucinich! Finally, someone speaks on the truth about the whole health care bill situation. This is about health care being a right to every American citizen and this bill underscores "life,liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Are there problems with the bill? Of course; and, that is why are constitution allows for future revisions. If we keep on trying to make it perfect, the basic law will never get passed – and that is what we are talking about – the BASIC law and right of health care.

    March 17, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Deborah Benson

    How does Mr. Kucinich sleep at night? He admitted that he is voting yes for something he doesn't agree with. And that serves the American people? What could the President say to him to sway him from doing the job he was elected to do – represent Americans and do what the majority want. If this health bill is so great, why does the President and Nancy hypocritical-Catholic Pelosi keep dragging on with the vote and keep working on changing the minds of Congressmen? Is this what America is all about? I think not. How do they all sleep at night? They are certainly disturbing my sleep. I am so very, very disappointed and fearful. You are a coward Mr.Kucinich. Our boys and girls in the Middle East far surpass any courage you could possibly muster.

    March 17, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Obozo and Rahm must have tied him up and beat him during that trip on Air Force One. The nickname of "Dennis the Menace" is well deserved.

    March 17, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. Seth

    Wine and Dine... just don't Whine. We have the right to life and liberty.

    Your vote Mr. Kucinich will help to wipe out both of those. You can't please everyone, but you know that you did not please yourself on this one. You wanted so much more. The American people want so much less GOVERNMENT takeover of our LIBERTY.

    Freedom will prevail.. that vote is unanimous!!

    March 17, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. Boopme

    For the life of me I cannot understand sensible people standing in the way of Health Care Reform. When the 14th Amendment was signed in1868, was it a perfect bill? No, but it was the beginning for a more perfect union. Each amendment after that was better than the one before. My God, why does everything have to be perfect and paid for right now? Did you pay cash for your house when you bought it? We are talking about reform of the health care system of the USA, It can't be done overnight and it won't ever be perfect. I don't understand a nation that will vote on billions of aid for other countries that have a health care system in place, but not vote for a bill to help their own. Will vote for an unnecessary war that has killed thousands, will vote on a "No Child Left Behind Bill" that was never funded and the money used to fight there greedy wars. Will hide billions of dollars that was spent on these wars and as soon as they have a chance to vote on a bill to help their fellow Americans, it's too costly. We are a doomed people. So sad.

    March 17, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. John

    I would be interested to know what "carrot" the White House had to offer to Rep. Kucinich to change his vote. It seems to be standard procedure in Washington to barter or buy votes in Congress. If the House votes to "deem" the Senate bill passed without an up or down vote by each member, the voters will be heard in November. As elected Representatives of the people, they are obligated to have their positions on each issue on the public record.

    March 17, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. American Airman

    Maybe if I got a ride in Air Force one I would support the bill too.

    Tell us Congressman, was it uncomfortable having your spine removed while flying aboard that special plane, or did Nurse Nancy give you some spike Kool-Aid to make the pain go away?

    March 17, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. dan smith

    Hmm wonder what kind of special deals he got for his vote. The Taliban is alive and well it's called the Democrat party now.

    March 17, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Jason

    Kucinich is a sell out, he had 4 visits Obama, and did the president have some pictures of Kucinich in a compromising position that would make him change his mind? Kucinich said. "I have doubts about the bill ... [but] I've decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation." If you have doubts about the bill why would you vote for it? I hope his constituents have doubts in November and he will be out of a job. Out with all incumbents (Dems and Repubs) that is change we can all believe in show all the people in DC that the people are fed up with their politics as usual.

    March 17, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. David in Houston

    Thank you, Dennis!

    I know this was a difficult decision for you. No bill is ever perfect but this one helps get us closer to where we should be as a country when it comes to the health care needs of Americans.

    March 17, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. Dean

    Thank You Dennis

    March 17, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. rta

    passed the bill, and let's move on. fix and improve the bill like social security, civil rights etc. do something positive for the american people. stopped the wasted money on ads that do nothing for anyone. too bad the money used on both sides of the issue can't be donated to free clinics, workshops on insurances, donated funds to medical necessities like adult transports, wheelchairs, meals on wheels etc.

    March 17, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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