Kratovil a "No" on health care
Frank Kratovil made it official today: he'll vote against the Democratic health care plan in the House this weekend.
The freshman Democrat from the Eastern Shore, facing one of the toughest re-election fights in the country next year, released a statement declaring his opposition to the measure. His stance could complicate efforts by Democratic leaders to secure approval of the legislation this weekend.
“After months of thoroughly reviewing legislative proposals and speaking with constituents and stakeholders, I am not satisfied that this bill before us is a sustainable solution,” Kratovil said in a release from his office this morning. “While I applaud the efforts to improve this bill, I still am concerned that this bill does not do enough to bend the long-term cost curve and that it lacks adequate provisions to reduce the deficit and protect small businesses.”
Kratovil left open the possibility of supporting a future version of health care legislation. He stated that he would “continue to work with my colleagues to pursue a better bill as this process continues.”
If both the House and Senate approve health care overhaul plans, a final version of the legislation would have to be crafted and submitted to both chambers for a vote. That merged plan could be more palatable to moderates.
Kratovil, who represents the Eastern Shore and portions of Baltimore, Harford and Anne Arundel counties, is close to House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of southern Maryland. Kratovil had previously indicated his opposition to the House legislation, while leaving open the possibility that he might support it.
The former Queen Anne’s County prosecutor is a member of the House Blue Dog coalition, a group of 52 fiscally conservative Democrats that has been critical of the cost of their party’s health care proposal. He had been under pressure, from conservatives in his district and media ads by opponents of the Democratic health care plan, to vote against it.
Because House Republicans have remained united in their opposition to the Democratic health care proposal, House leaders will need to persuade at least a dozen Blue Dogs to support the plan. With a total of 258 Democrats in the House, and 218 votes needed to approve the measure, there can be no more than 40 defections by Democrats or the plan as currently written will fail.
In recent days, several House Democrats who represent Republican districts have come out against the measure. Kratovil, whose district backed Republican John McCain by a wide margin in 2008, fits that profile.
By announcing their opposition in advance of Saturday’s floor debate, these Democrats spare themselves from being pressured by House leaders to support the measure as a matter of party loyalty. Republicans are waging an aggressive campaign to warn Democrats from conservative districts that a vote in favor of the House health care plan, strongly supported by President Barack Obama and—just this week—groups such as AARP and the American Medical Association, could produce a voter backlash in 2010 that will end their careers in Congress.
Kratovil was the only Marylander whose vote was in doubt. The other Democrats in the delegation are expected to support the measure while the lone Republican, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of western Maryland, is opposed.
Here is Kratovil's complete statement:
“We need health care reform that reduces long-term health care spending and expands coverage, but we must find a fiscally sustainable approach to accomplish these goals. After months of thoroughly reviewing legislative proposals and speaking with constituents and stakeholders, I am not satisfied that this bill before us is a sustainable solution. While I applaud the efforts to improve this bill, I still am concerned that this bill does not do enough to bend the long-term cost curve and that it lacks adequate provisions to reduce the deficit and protect small businesses. While I will continue to work with my colleagues to pursue a better bill as this process continues, I do not support HR 3962 and will vote against it when it comes to the floor this weekend.”