McNerney's phones blowing up ahead of vote

March 16, 2010 10:25:48 PM PDT
Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-CA, is feeling the pressure. He's being bombarded with phone calls from across his district and around the country over his health care vote.

McNerney is the only Bay Area congressman who is still undecided about how he'll vote on health care -- that's what he's saying.

In Washington D.C., the vote counters believe McNerney will vote for the legislation, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is looking for ways to provide McNerney and other vulnerable Democrats some political cover.

At McNerney's Pleasanton office, the phones been ringing non-stop.

"I'd be happy to pass along your comments to the congressman and he is currently reviewing all of the options being considered," a person from McNerney's office said.

McNerney's press secretary says the calls are running about half and half; which is what ABC7 found when we talked with his constituents in downtown Pleasanton.

"I'd tell him I don't want the package that's on the Congress right now, no way," a Pleasanton resident said.

"I'd tell him to vote no because we don't need it at this time, and we can't afford it at this time," another Pleasanton resident said.

About half the people ABC7 asked said vote 'no,' but at McNerney's D.C. office, the "no's" are outnumbering the "yes" votes. Most of the calls are coming in from outside of California and it is clear the GOP intends a vigorously challenge him McNerney next November.

And what if McNerney votes yes on health care?

"From a political point of view the Republicans want that vote for the Senate bill," ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain said.

Cain says the GOP wants to use the health care vote against Democrats in the November elections.

But Pelosi is considering a parliamentary maneuver that would allow the House to vote just once on the much more politically acceptable reconciliation bill. The more objectionable Senate bill would be deemed to be passed without a separate vote.

"We have as I've said to you before, several options available to us," she said.

Pelosi says she hasn't settled on the so-called deem procedure, but Republicans are already crying foul.

"Nancy Pelosi is trying to come up with an immaculate conception," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.

"This is all part of the March madness we're seeing in Congress," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said.

"It will go down as one of the most extraordinary legislative sleights of hand in history," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell, R-Ky., said.

"Well that's of course ridiculous," Cain said.

Our political expert in Washington D.C. says Republicans use the same procedure all the time.

"What it is political I mean it basically takes away a vote that republicans were counting on to put in their messages in November," he said.

Cain says the procedure Pelosi is considering may give some small measure of political protection, but next November, Cain doubts it'll make a bit of difference.

"When it gets to the sort of swing voters that are going to determine the outcome they're not going to focus on the process. They're not reading the papers as closely, and they're not as focused on these different procedures," he said.

Cain said that next November, the economy and jobs will trump health care in part because most of the provisions in the health care legislation won't go into effect for several years.


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