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Democrats’ Hope for Unity Rests in Health Care Fight

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Republicans reversed course on their pledge to run the House openly by pushing a health care repeal bill with no amendments and limited debate.

A GOP leadership aide dismissed any short-term unity or political gains Democrats may think they have seen from this week’s health care fight. “They’re united around defending a bill that already cost them 63 seats.  That’s not a strategy, that’s a political suicide pact.”

Still, Democrats of all stripes are sending one message.

Blue Dog leader Rep. Heath Shuler, who ran a symbolic campaign to replace Pelosi as party leader and who voted against the health care reform bill last year, said Republicans’ approach to health care was “immoral” and goes against the theme of Boehner’s speech to the House and what Republicans say they want to stand for.

“The Republicans are back to some same-old tactics all over again,” the North Carolina Democrat said. “This is a campaign promise that they have made  … so they recognize that.”

Another Blue Dog leader, Rep. Jim Matheson, said the health care replacement legislation Republicans are eyeing is just as politically driven as their repeal efforts.

“It’s not a bill,” the Utah Democrat said. “They’re fine-talking points. But that doesn’t talk about how to replace health care.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) pointed to GOP pledges to have a more open and transparent process and said the public had “witnessed no less than a full-scale reversal” on those promises.

Shuler said he only would support a replacement effort if Republicans made a good-faith effort and stopped “grandstanding and politicizing the process.”

“Why would you want to take that away from those people and start over?” Shuler said of the health care bill. “What we can do is keep the good things in place. … Let us replace those things, but we don’t have to repeal the entire process and start over.”

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