Monday, March 15, 2010

Pascrell on board for health care reform?

An update on my recalcitrant Congressman, Bill Pascrell, Democrat of District 8 in New Jersey, who told Politico and Fox News in the aftermath of the Massachusetts election that Democrats should scale back their health care plans and just pass scraps of reform, and that he was working on rounding up colleagues intent on doing just that. Back then, he pronounced both the House and Senate bills dead. On March 2, in an open letter to the President, he published a weak excuse for a reform package   (however worthy some component parts may be) - tort reform, a patient's bill of rights, antittrust exemption repeal.

A week ago Friday, Pascrell's aide told me that he "doesn't like the Senate bill" -- e.g., the excise tax, the relatively stingy subsidies. Today he told Politico, "I don't think we should simply assume Mr. Reid has 51 votes...I don't know what the hell is going on over there in the Senate." Apparently he's of the school of House Democrats who believe, as Dick Durbin put it yesterday,  "The Republicans are our opponents, but the Senate is the enemy."

But it would appear that he's on board. David Dayen's whip count at Firedoglake, which identifies all known Democratic no's and maybe's by name, does not name him, and so has him in the definite yes category by default. An Organizing for America email last week asked members in this area to call Pascrell and "thank him" for voting for the House HCR bill in November; there was no direct mention that he might be squishy now.

Today, Pascrell's his aide told me that he "needs to see what's in the bill"  and remains uncommitted. When I cited Dayen's count, though, and said that I assumed that he would vote for the bill in the end, she acknowledged that that's probably what will happen. 

I took two whacks at Pascrell in op-eds in local media, here and here.

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