But that first step – getting 216 House Democrats to pass what many thought was an odious Senate health care bill – was a formidable one.
Thirty-seven sitting Democrats had voted against the House version of health care reform in November 2009, and many found the Senate version even more objectionable. With no GOP support, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had almost no room for error.
Here’s a glimpse at how Speaker Pelosi and President Obama worked a diverse caucus to get to Sunday’s 219-to-212 vote victory:
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio
Congressman Kucinich opposed the House bill because its public option was not strong enough. The Senate version is weaker still. But hours of discussion with Mr. Obama – including a trip to Cleveland on Air Force One on March 15 – helped change his mind and shift momentum toward Democrats.
“When I realized I couldn’t get everything I wanted, the choice was: Do you accept the bill as it is or just kill the bill – and with it, any chance of a serious discussion – because people won’t want to go there again,” he said.
Kucinich says that what moved him wasn’t any special deal for Cleveland, but concern for the impact of a defeat of health care to the Obama presidency.