Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he won’t support the Republican repeal bill. “I’ve always been in the mode to repair it,” he told POLITICO on Tuesday.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester, another moderate Democrat who has to face voters in 2012, is not expected to support repeal, either.
He “will continue to work to find ways to improve the health insurance reform law — like voting to repeal the 1099 provision — but he will not vote to repeal the overall bill, because repeal would add $230 billion to our national debt and because repeal would mean many Montanans would not be able to get coverage due to pre-existing conditions and seniors would continue struggling to pay for much-needed prescription drugs,” spokeswoman Andrea Helling said.
“I think the most important thing is for the American people to understand that the only way that we can make sure that people who have had the nerve to be sick before they can find insurance on the private market is to make sure that more people are in that market,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told reporters.
At this point, I'd be surprised if a single Democrat votes with Republicans on repeal. Ben Nelson remains a remote possibility, but unlike Manchin, he infamously voted for Obamacare to begin with. Will he actually turn around and publicly repudiate his own vote? Doubtful.
Speaking of Manchin, if any West Virginians who supported him in November are now incensed by his vote against repeal, they have no one to blame but themselves. Democrats from red states play this kabuki conservative game all the time. During the campaign, their ads and speeches depict them as the second coming of Ronald Reagan himself. They do things like literally shoot the cap and trade bill with a rifle to prove how they ain't like all them other liberals up there in Washington. But once they get to DC, they revert to type. Joe Manchin's vote against Obamacare repeal will look exactly the same as Barbara Boxer's in the final tally.
If citizens want true conservative representation in Washington, they simply cannot vote for a Democrat. Ever.
UPDATE: A senior Republican aide tells me a vote on McConnell's repeal amendment is expected sometime in the mid-afternoon today, perhaps between 3 and 4pm ET.
UPDATE II: Sen. McConnell opens the day's Senate session with a speech in favor of outright repeal, saying the case against the bill "becomes more compelling every day." He also pokes at Democrats for "co-opting" Republican Senator Mike Johanns' push to vitiate the 1099 tax reporting element of Obamacare. He says Republicans have no problem with it and expressed hope that Democrats may also claim as their own any number of changes to the law Republicans have advocated. Harry Reid is now addressing the aviation bill, to which the healthcare amendment is attached. This debate will unfold for at least five more hours, culminating in a vote.
UPDATE III: I'm now told that the vote may not come until early evening. In the meantime, Democrats are defending Obamacare by pointing at giant photos of sick people and recounting their tales of woe. There are undoubtedly individuals in this country who have been mistreated by health insurance companies, whose stories are heartbreaking, and who might even benefit from certain elements of Obamacare. There are many others who stand to lose their current healthcare plans due to Obamacare-induced layoffs and mandates -- in direct contravention of the president's famous promise. There are countless others, including veterans and Native Americans (not to mention Brits and Canadians), who have suffered under the bureaucratic yolk of government-run healthcare.
If the GOP wanted to match Democrats victim-for-victim, they could. But that wouldn't foster a serious debate. It's a very dramatic and emotional ploy, but drama and emotion rarely encourage wise policy decisions. Obamacare is running up our national deficits and debt, raising overall healthcare spending, diminishing the quality of care, and raising premiums. For those reasons alone, the dreadful law should be repealed -- and Republicans are wise to skip the exploitive theatrics and focus on those issues.
UPDATE IV: Andrew Stiles at the Corner wonders if some Democrats might be wavering on their repeal vote.
...At a pen-and-pad session with reporters today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence over his party’s ability to keep its caucus in line.
Schumer would only say that he expects “the overwhelming majority” of Democrats to oppose repeal. “Maybe it will be everybody, maybe it will be close,” Schumer said. “We haven’t whipped it.”
I still stand by my prediction (above) that zero Democrats will cross the aisle on this vote, with the possible exception of Ben Nelson, who's starting to make noises about abolishing or significantly altering the individual mandate. (Here's Nelson's statement on the repeal vote. It very much sounds like he's sticking with Harry & Co).