With President Obama forging ahead on health care reform, the moment of truth is arriving for wavering Democrats who would prefer that the issue just went away. Take Walt Minnick, a freshman from Idaho. The conservative Democrat voted against health care reform when it first came through the House.
When the Associated Press recently asked Minnick if he might change his previous no vote to a yes, he declined to answer, putting him on the AP's list of ten Democrats who might possibly switch.
His office responded by calling the AP to say that there was no way he was voting yes the next time around.
Reporters caught up with him in the Capitol on Wednesday and he had climbed back to the top of the fence, where he sits.
"I always look at legislation, because this legislation is not finalized," he said when HuffPost asked if he was a firm no. "If it is simply the Senate bill, I've looked at that and decided I was opposed to it."
Of course, it won't be simply the Senate bill. What changes does he need to see in it?
"I'm not prepared to talk to that right now. The issue of what's going to be in the bill is, I think, between the president and senior leadership right now. So if they ask me, I'll give them feedback. But in general I want it to be paid for, I want it to bend the cost curve," he said.
It is paid for and it does bend the health care cost curve -- in real-world terms, it reduces the rate of growth of health care costs -- according to health care experts and nonpartisan congressional analysts.
"I want to see what the president says today and I'm not 100 percent convinced it's the end of the process," said Minnick.
Could he be the vote that kills it? Minnick paused and answered.
"Of course I could," he said, then paused again before going on.
"This is not a process that I'm very excited about. I'd much rather have a bill that had enough support, bipartisan support, so you didn't have to go through the process," he said. "I think that sentiment is rather widely shared."
Minnick's spokesman couldn't immediately be reached, but we expect a call shortly that might pull him back off the fence.
UPDATE -- Wednesday 5:15 PM: "Like his constituents in Idaho, Walt continues to hold out hope that the president will propose a bill that will actually reduce their costs of insurance and be something that they will support. It's not surprising that the liberal Huffington Post wouldn't understand his position," said Minnick's campaign spokesman John Foster.
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