03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Cantor Targets 37 Democratic Lawmakers To Switch Health Care Vote

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is releasing the names of 37 Democratic members of the House his office is targeting in an effort to switch their vote on health care reform.

The Virginia Republican, in a memo release from his office, pinned the GOP's prospects of derailing reform on convincing three of those 37 members to switch their vote from a yea to a nay. If Republican leadership secures those votes, it would reverse the narrow margin by which health care reform initially passed the House of Representatives.

"Millions of Americans have made clear their opposition to the Democrat take-over of our nation's health care system. Together with my Whip Team, I have identified 37 Democrats who - we believe - can be persuaded to vote against a final health care agreement. Because each of these 37 Democrats voted for the House bill, we only need to turn 3 votes to prevent a final agreement from passing," reads the Cantor memo. "If we can convince enough of these 37 Members (along with the 39 Democrats who already voted no) to reconsider and switch their position on the bill, I know that we can defeat this government take-over of our health care before it becomes law."

While the number of needed defections seems small, Cantor's gambit remains something of a long shot. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) is widely believed to have the votes needed to get the legislation through her chamber. And it is possible that some of the 39 Democratic lawmakers who opposed health care reform in the first vote will switch their votes in the second go-round -- certainly if the legislation more closely resembles the Senate's version.

Nevertheless, Cantor lists the names of the representatives targeted by his office. And in what resembles a fairly aggressive strategy for a whip, he highlights the policy positions that he believes puts these members in play. The Virginia Republican writes:


"If the House-passed Stupak-Pitts language is weakened in the final agreement, the votes of the following pro-life House Democrats could be in play:

Costello, Jerry (IL)
Dahlkemper, Kathleen (PA)
Donnelly, Joe (IN)
Driehaus, Steve (OH)
Ellsworth, Brad (IN)
Kaptur, Marcy (OH)
Kildee, Dale (MI)
Lipinski, Daniel (IL)
Oberstar, Jim (MN)
Stupak, Bart (MI)
Wilson, Charlie (OH)


While the House and Senate take different approaches to cutting funding for the Medicare Advantage program, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida inserted language in the Senate version of the bill that effectively ensures that seniors in Florida (and potentially a few other areas) will be protected from these cuts. Will these House Members, each of whom has a significant Medicare Advantage population in their district, vote for a final bill that cuts Medicare benefits for the seniors they represent, while seniors in Florida are protected from such cuts?

Mitchell, Harry (AZ)
Giffords, Gabrielle (AZ)
Cardoza, Dennis (CA)
Schiff, Adam (CA)
Moore, Dennis (KS)
Oberstar, Jim (MN)
Maffei, Daniel (NY)
Driehaus, Steve (OH)
Kaptur, Marcy (OH)
Space, Zach (OH)
Schrader, Kurt (OR)
Dahlkemper, Kathleen (PA)
Carney, Chris (PA)
Cuellar, Henry (TX)
Smith, Adam (WA)
Mollohan, Alan (WV)
Kind, Ron (WI)
Kagen, Steve (WI)


Both the House and Senate health care bills expand coverage, in part, by expanding Medicaid and asking states to pick up a portion of the cost. Most states are facing their own budget crisis, however, and are being forced to make reductions in current services and thus may not be able to afford the cost of expanding Medicaid.


Potential House vote switchers from states that, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are being forced to cut education funding but which will also be saddled with millions of dollars in new Medicaid costs are:

Arizona: Giffords, Gabrielle; Mitchell, Harry
California: Cardoza, Dennis; Schiff, Adam
Connecticut: Himes, James
Georgia: Bishop, Sanford
Illinois: Bean, Melissa; Costello, Jerry; Halvorson, Deborah; Lipinski, Daniel
Iowa: Boswell, Leonard
Kansas: Moore, Dennis
Maine: Michaud, Michael
Michigan: Kildee, Dale; Stupak, Bart
Minnesota: Oberstar, Jim
New York: Arcuri, Michael; Maffei, Daniel
North Carolina: Ethridge, Bob
Oregon: Schrader, Kurt
Pennsylvania: Carney, Chris; Dahlkemper, Kathleen; Driehaus, Steve; Kanjorski, Paul
Virginia: Connolly, Gerry; Perriello, Tom
Washington: Smith, Adam
West Virginia: Mollohan, Alan; Rahall, Nick
Wisconsin: Kagen, Steve; Kind, Ron