Rank-and-File Supplied the Crucial Votes

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They aren’t famous, and their faces aren’t the ones you see on television or on magazine covers, but the Democrats’ House majority hinges on rank-and-file members from places such as Erie, Pa.

And in the end, most wavering Democrats sided with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and voted for the insurance reform that passed Sunday.

Here are a few of the members who helped lift Pelosi to victory, and a couple who stayed opposed.

Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa.
Dahlkemper is a first-term Democrat who represents a Republican-leaning district anchored by the city of Erie. She voted for last November’s House insurance reform, which included restrictive anti-abortion language sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.

Dahlkemper had been a last-minute holdout on the current bill, because of her concerns about abortion funding language.

She was part of the group of Democrats headed by Stupak, who led negotiations with the Obama administration, which brought Sunday’s executive order promising to ensure that federal funds are not used to pay for non-elective abortions.

“I want to thank the president of the United States, who listened to us, who heard our concerns, and helped us find a way through his executive order to make sure that this legislation is a ‘whole life’ piece of legislation,” she told a press conference Sunday at the Capitol.

She said Democrats were trying to help young women who may find themselves pregnant, especially, “college students, young teenagers, women from abusive families.” She said the bill included $250 million in funding to help such women.

“I say this as a person who was there. I was 20 years old in college when I found myself pregnant with my oldest son. And he’s now 30 and actually made me a grandmother just a year ago,” she told reporters.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain narrowly carried her district in the 2008 presidential election. Before Sunday’s vote the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated her race “Likely Democratic.”

Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
In an interview with msnbc.com last summer, Donnelly said of the Democrats’ bill, "Sometimes when it becomes too big, it makes it impossible to get any part of it done." He asked, "Are there a couple of incremental steps, rather than trying to bite off the whole thing at one time?"

He wondered, "Would people accept it better if it were just one or two steps to try to fix some of the things that are broken?"

He said last week that “the Senate version of health care reform does not meet my standards for assuring that no federal funds are used for abortion-related services.”

But on Sunday, Donnelly, who was a part of the Stupak group, said he’d vote for the bill. “The executive order will ensure that no tax credits or cost-sharing reduction payments will be used for abortion-related services in the insurance exchange and ensures that federal community health center funding is subject to the Hyde Amendment,” he said.

Donnelly faces a strong challenge from Republican Jackie Walorski. Before Sunday’s vote the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated Donnelly’s seat “Likely Democratic.”

Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla.
Kosmas, a first-term Democrat, switched from a “no” on last year’s House bill to a “yes” Sunday.

She told the Orlando Sentinel that she switched because the latest version of the bill “provides the best options and the best opportunities for my constituents.”

McCain carried her district in 2008 with 51 percent of the vote. Before Sunday’s vote the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated her seat “Lean Democratic.”

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.
Lynch switched from a “yes” on last November’s House bill to a “no” Sunday.

“We’ve paid the ransom, but at the end of the day the insurance companies are still holding the hostages,’’ Lynch said Friday. “This is a very good bill for insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. It might be good for Nebraska, I don’t know. Or Florida residents. But it’s not good for the average American, and it’s not good for my district. Or for Massachusetts.”

Lynch had been summoned to the White House Thursday to confer with Obama and faced strong pressure from labor union leaders. A Needham, Mass., Democrat named Harmony Wu vowed to challenge Lynch in a primary if he voted “no.”

Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo.
Markey won her seat in 2008 in a northeastern Colorado district that McCain narrowly won. Before Sunday’s vote the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated her race “Toss Up.”

After opposing last November’s bill ,she said last Thursday she would back the revised bill.  Obama singled her out for praise when he spoke to House Democrats at their rally on Saturday. “Betsy is in a tough district,” Obama said.

“Last fall, I voted against the House version of health-care reform,” Markey explained in an op-ed in the Fort Collins Coloradoan. “I had many issues with the legislation, but I simply felt it didn't do enough to contain costs, a concern I repeatedly voiced to House leadership and the administration.”

But she said the problems had been fixed and cited the Congressional Budget Office estimate that the combined House and Senate bills would reduces federal deficits by around one-half percent of Gross Domestic Product from 2020 to 2030.

“People in the fourth congressional district of Colorado, are simply outraged that their congresswoman Betsy Markey has decided not to listen to them,” said her GOP opponent, state Rep. Cory Gardner, in an interview with Fox Business News on Sunday.

Rep. Mike McMahon, D-N.Y.
Another Democratic freshman who won what had been a Republican seat in 2008, McMahon voted "no' on the first house bill and stayed that way, despite a call from the White House.

His local newspaper, the Staten Island Advance. reported Sunday that labor union leaders and the Working Families Party have “threatened to buck McMahon come the fall election, and put up a progressive third-party candidate that could pull Democratic votes from him.”

McMahon’s New York City’s district, which includes Staten Island and the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, backed McCain in 2008. Before Sunday’s vote the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated his seat “Lean Democratic.”

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