Against It: A Look At The 34 Dems Who Voted No On Health Care Reform

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March 22, 2010 5:50 a.m.
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The 34 Democrats who voted against health care reform last night are by and large a familiar set. They overlap significantly–though not entirely–with the 39 Democrats who voted against the House health care bill in November. Just as in November, most hail from contested districts, in the south and the midwest. But just as in November, there are some surprises–members you wouldn’t normally expect to see voting against legislation so closely associated with the Democratic party.

Most of the Democratic “no” votes are as you would expect: conservative members from conservative districts, in many cases facing difficult re-election challenges. Blue Dog chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) is one such member. So is Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA).Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) has opposed reform all the way, as has Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA), but not because their seats are being threatened. Both men are abdicating their seats in pursuit of higher office–Davis is seeking the governorship of Alabama; Melancon is hoping to unseat Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). Their votes against reform are, at least in part, calculated to boost their odds of victory in those races

But not all conservative Democrats are created equal. Reps. Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Colin Peterson (D-MN) are powerful committee chairmen (Skelton heads the Armed Services Committee, Peterson the Agriculture Committee). And though life isn’t as easy for them, electorally speaking, as it is for other chairmen, it’s not very common for Democratic leaders to oppose their party’s own legislation.

Then there are the real head scratchers. Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-NY) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) famously abandoned the reform push late in the game, after having voted for the House bill. Lynch, in particular, went on a very public crusade of opposition to the bill from the left, and cast his vote despite pleas from President Obama and AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka that he vote with the party.

Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) is also an odd case. He’s one of three House Democrats who opposed reform in November to have announced his retirement in the months since then. Tanner’s opposition was easy to explain in November. But with nothing to lose, there had been some expectation that he would back the bill. In the days before the bill passed, the other two retiring reform skeptics, Reps Brian Baird (D-WA) and Bart Gordon (D-TN) fell into line. But Tanner did not.

Ultimately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t need the votes of these unexpected opponents. But if reform had failed by a small margin, these latter members would be, perhaps, the greatest culprits. A full list of Democratic no votes follows below.

John Adler (D-NJ)
Jason Altmire (D-PA)
Michael Arcuri (D-NY)
John Barrow (D-GA)
Marion Berry (D-AR)
Dan Boren (D-OK)
Rick Boucher (D-VA)
Bobby Bright (D-AL)
Ben Chandler (D-KY)
Travis Childers (D-MS)
Artur Davis (D-AL)
Lincoln Davis (D-TN)
Chet Edwards (D-TX)
S. Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)
Tim Holden (D-PA)
Larry Kissell (D-NC)
Frank Kratovil (D-MD)
Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)
Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
Jim Marshall (D-GA)
Jim Matheson (D-UT)
Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Michael McMahon (D-NY)
Charlie Melancon (D-LA)
Walt Minnick (D-ID)
Glenn Nye (D-VA)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Mike Ross (D-AR)
Heath Shuler (D-NC)
Ike Skelton (D-MO)
Zachary Space (D-OH)
John Tanner (D-TN)
Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Harry Teague (D-NM)

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