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. Mike in MN

    Obama may get the votes he needs to pass Obamacare.
    But I understand they are having a lot of problems with the CBO scoring on the fix it bill. Obama's changes have added a lot of new cost to the bill pushing it well past the promised 900 billion limit. To complicate matters more, the reconciliation rules say a reconciliation bill has to bring the deficit lower and it can't count the deficit reduction in the Senate bill because that is a seperate bill. So with they have to come up with tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere that are greater than the spending increases Obama added to the reconciliation bill. Reports are the they are having a lot of trouble coming up with numbers that will work.
    Some of the Dems who are waiting to decide based on the CBO score have said they would be reluctant to support the bill if the changes result in a significant increase in the cost.
    This ain't over yet.

    March 17, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. Unregulated capitalism has a short shelf life

    Dennis was the right pick for President,but the powers on high were afraid of him so they made sure he never stood a chance.Plus the electorate,especially women, dont think someone under six foot tall should be in charge.He wanted the public option or single payer,but Wall Street wanted to go slow and drag it out.

    March 17, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Big John

    He's absolutely correct, "health care is a civil right." and those who oppose it should have theirs cancelled. It's shameful that as one of the greatest countries on this planet we're # 37 in health care
    The republicans are doing nothing but standing at the sidelines throwing stones....even more shameful!

    March 17, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. Tdarling77

    Thanks Dennis for doing the right thing for the American people. It's the right thing to do. God will bless you for the vote you're about to cast for this health care bill for the American people.

    March 17, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  5. dan smith

    Bye bye Kucinich have fun in the real world after your kicked out of office.

    March 17, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. Bert Ryder

    Mr Dennis Kucinich; That is why you would have made a terrible President; you're one of the followers. I'm so sick and tired of you weak links; can't visuialize the real problem, so scared of your reelection, you'll do anything to win! ..... Bert Ryder, 5043 Starboard Dr., Maumee, Ohio

    March 17, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  7. T'SAH from Virginia

    Okay – so how many more democrats want to get reelected in the Fall??? If they DO NOT vote for the bill – then it would not only be the RepubliCAN'Ts voting against – it would be the DEMOCRATS too!!

    March 17, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Leo from East Texas

    The Election is over President Obama won.....Two Thirds of the Country voted for President Obama on this issue alone. People want change. This Bill helps Republican, Democrat & Independent Families across the country. Insurance companys lose families win, how's than for a change. Please get it done......

    March 17, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. richp the poconos

    What was his price, was he the one who sold out for a ride on AF-1 ?

    March 17, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. I Love America

    Hope the bribe was worth it, Denny. Guess we'll see what the good people of Ohio think about it.

    March 17, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Slider

    The aliens in their UFO's made him do it.

    I have no desire to see my country and my state go the way of Cleveland under this loser's tenure.

    March 17, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. Jill Harvey

    It is time for courage and action. This country cannot wait another ten years for healthcare reform. I believe in a government run medical system,- having lived in both the UK and Canada, but if this is the only way to get the reforms that are required started, then please, please let us begin the process. This will take time to get it right and the legislation will be changed and refined in the years to come. (it always is) but for the sake of all Americans let us pass this bill now! jmh

    March 17, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. It's time for another change!

    "Kucinich said. "I have doubts about the bill ... "

    Now there's a good reason to vote for a bill. I can't help but wonder what kind of back room deal was made on his trip with Obama on Air Force One.

    March 17, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Diane

    Not "opponents of reform" but opponents of this pork filled 2000 page nightmare they are trying to pass off as Health Care Reform. I support a reform of health care, but not this,

    March 17, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Jeff in Virginia

    This is the second day now that CNN has been hyping up Joe Wilson's campaign ad as some sort of groundswell of support. The simple truth is that any politician can find supporters- it really is not that hard.

    Why is this being reported as news?

    March 17, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. John

    How can you have "doubts about the bill" but vote yes? Are you kidding me? When will elected people in Congress start doing what is right for us instead of what is right for them?

    March 17, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I am glad that he sees that it is better than nothing. Besides, there is nothing that bars people from trying again.

    March 17, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Independent Voter

    Such a raw power grab by Mr. Obama. A man who we, independent voters, put so much faith in. Now he works with fools like this congressman who is so out of step with the American people that he has become a political joke. Mr. Obama will never get my vote again!

    March 17, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Rickster

    Kucinich is a raging loon so I'm not surprised that he is voting for it. Also, he says "health care is a civil right." You want to know why this country is in the mess we are in? That statement tells you why...entitlement upon entitlement. The productive supporting the unproductive only works for so long. It's a house of cards that is destined to cave in. This country needs to start saying "no" to people instead of enabling them every time they fail.

    March 17, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. proud conservative

    WOW! Obama got off cheap this time. One ride on Air Force One and Kucinich was bought off. Nice going Mr. Prez!

    March 17, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Rush is to far left

    Wonder what was used to bribe him. The fact that bribery has been utilized for this bill should prove how bad it is for the country.

    March 17, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. bts

    There are biblical principles at work in passing the HCR bill. In time of need...plant a seed. And do unto others as you want them to do unto you. People want to be valued and treated with respected...especially during their time of need. I know their are those who think we can't afford HCR. Honestly, we can't afford NOT to have it. We found the money for wars, we need to juggle things around and find the money for this. God blesses when we do the right thing...that why this country is so great. Because we lean toward doing the right thing. So let's do the right thing, and God will have our back. It's only when we don't do what right that we are on our own...and hence the FEAR !!!

    March 17, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Maryland Democrat

    I find it interesting that the articles on this topic say how many votes are still needed to defeat the bill rather than how many votes are still needed to pass the bill.

    That implies that the bill will likely pass unless the number of nay votes goes up. In fact though what matters is not how many nay votes there are, but how many yes votes there are – I believe an "abstain" vote would weigh against success.

    Chances are though, the reason for writing articles like this is because everyone knows how many nays there are, while counting they yays, obviously, is harder to quantify (at least until the vote actually happens)

    March 17, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Remember AIG(American Internaional Group) which is an American insurance corporation bailed out by you the American tax payers because they are too big to fail. The large insurance companies lobbying against health care reform fall under AIG and are paying the GOP millions to vote NO with tax payers money. Well guess what people, AIG is investing abroad and making big profits and at he same time these big insurance companies are raising rates 50%. Health care refom must pass to stop this monopoly because Americans will continue to be left at the mercy of AIG with nowhere to turn.

    March 17, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. Xavier Baudet

    The main reason Republicans oppose healthcare-reform is because it threatens their electoral position. If the bill doesn't pass they can claim that Obama is a failure and that would fuel anti-government and anti-incumbent sentiments. but if Obama gets his bill through Congress he would show not only his own toughness, but also prove that government can have immediate and positive impact on American Life. In the long run healthcare costs will drop to European levels and families and (small) companies will have thousands of dollars available to spend on employment or other investments. This is likely to have a positive effect on the popularity of the Democrats and people's faith in (big) government.
    And secondly, when healthcare reform is no longer an issue, GOP candidates will have to look for new sponsors.

    March 17, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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