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As Lipinski votes no on health bill, the scene in the House from the Illinois angle

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WASHINGTON -- At 10:20 p.m. Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was imploring House members to vote yes for a landmark health care bill that a little more than an hour later would pass, after a long day of final wrangling.

Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) sat in the front row on the Democratic side as Pelosi spoke. Across the aisle where Republicans sit -- almost as far away from Pelosi as a lawmaker could get -- I spotted GOP Illinois Senate nominee Rep. Mark Steven Kirk in the last row, ducking out after a few minutes.

Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) sat in the front row on the Democratic side as Pelosi spoke. Across the aisle where Republicans sit -- almost as far away from Pelosi as a lawmaker could get -- I spotted GOP Illinois Senate nominee Rep. Mark Steven Kirk in the last row, ducking out after a few minutes.

Then, as Pelosi was wrapping up her remarks, I saw Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) entering the chamber -- as it happened through a door on the Republican side -- and he headed toward the Democratic seats. But Lipinski paused in the middle aisle, glanced up at the packed House galleries and never crossed over to stand with the other Democrats, leaving right away. The scene that unfolded seemed apt.

Then, as Pelosi was wrapping up her remarks, I saw Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) entering the chamber -- as it happened through a door on the Republican side -- and he headed toward the Democratic seats. But Lipinski paused in the middle aisle, glanced up at the packed House galleries and never crossed over to stand with the other Democrats, leaving right away. The scene that unfolded seemed apt.

The health care bill -- President Obama's top legislative priority -- passed on a 219-212 roll call, with three votes to spare, in essentially a party line vote. Kirk and all Republicans voted no. Lipinski was the only Illinois Democrat to vote no, one of 34 Democrats siding with the GOP.

The anti-abortion Lipinski had a slew of objections to the bill's provisions and was not convinced that the executive order Obama signed Sunday provided enough safeguards against federal money being channeled to clinics providing abortions or to insurance plans offering abortions.

The Obama executive order helped win the vote of other anti-abortion lawmakers. Lipinski said in a statement, "I do not believe the last-minute effort to address these concerns through an Executive Order is sufficient because there is every indication that federal courts would strike down this order, and the order could be repealed at any time in the future."

I'm told that Democratic leaders in Washington and Illinois were "confounded" by Lipinski's opposition to the bill because he is a diabetic who would find it tough --maybe impossible -- to find insurance coverage if he were not in Congress. The bill -- which still faces votes in the Senate before it can be sent to Obama to be signed, bans insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

But Lipinski's vote was his vote. Democratic leaders were furious with him earlier Sunday, when it was not yet clear they had enough votes. Lipinski told me last week he did not think he would hurt his career within the House -- where relations with leaders and the White House can matter -- by voting no.

"Dan has a tremendous amount of resolve," Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) told me when we talked in the Capitol. "And great desire to vote what he considers to be in his district's interests. He often does not waver in his convictions."

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) was a holdout for a while -- he wanted a better deal for drug coverage -- but he said he never "would stand in the way of this historic and much-needed reform bill." Rush said about Lipinski, "It's like we live in two different cities. Maybe we do."

4 Comments

Democrats: Bean, Y; Costello, Y; Davis, Y; Foster, Y; Gutierrez, Y; Halvorson, Y; Hare, Y; Jackson, Y; Lipinski, N; Quigley, Y; Rush, Y; Schakowsky, Y.

So maybe Dan yelled "Baby killer"?

But Lipinski paused in the middle aisle, glanced up at the packed House galleries and never crossed over to stand with the other Democrats, leaving right away.

You're right Lynn, that says it all doesn't it?
The only reason Lipinski gets re-elected is because of the D next to his name. A “D” that evidently stands for dunce. The hypocrite even said in 2007 he was all for health care reform because he’s a diabetic who wouldn’t be able to get insurance if he wasn’t a house rep. If he wins reelection he'll never have to worry about that again will he? He'll be fully vested in government paid health care til he dies no matter how long he serves in congress.

If you live in IL-3 and are fed up with Lipinski but feel you have nowhere to devote your energies come a few miles west to IL-13 and help a real Democrat Scott Harper defeat the equally hypocritical Judy Biggert.

Biggert claims to be pro-choice and pro-reform but she voted for the Stupak amendment last year and but voted against the House bill in November and again last night. To top it off she voted for the motion to recommit the bill to committee on abortion grounds. Even Stupak voted against that last ditch effort to scuttle the bill. Does Biggert think she can get away with being further to the right on women's reproductive rights than Stupak?

Let Lipinski see if he can get elected without Democratic support and come help a real Democrat Scott Harper dump Judy Biggert along with her mindless devotion to Republican partisan politics. She had a chance to stand up last night and cast a principled vote for women on the motion to recommit. Instead she chose to side with the far rightwing partisans who have taken over her party. When it comes to actual votes on the House floor Biggert stands with her campaign donors instead of those she pretends to serve every single time.

There's not much we can do to get rid of Lipinski this fall but with enough help we can send Biggert back to her Hinsdale mansion.

http://www.scottharperforcongress.com/

3/22/10

Do you think that Lipinski was given a pass by the Democratic leadership once they had determined they had enough votes to pass the health care reform bill? Lipinski represents a relatively conservative district and, while his seat looks safe for the foreseeable future, why take any chances?

Lynn, last month, I sent you a copy of my book, "The Chairman, A Novel of Big City Politics." While, as I said in the accompanying letter “I know you’re busy, and asking someone to read a book is asking a lot in an age when time is our most precious commodity,” I do hope you get a chance to read the book. It’s quite entertaining, and even you, Lynn, one of the city’s foremost political experts, might learn something from it.

Judy Biggert does not represent the people in her district --- only those who pay to keep her in office for their own gain!

When I wrote to her regarding the bank bailout proposal in the fall of 2008, she responded with a "form letter" on Iraq --- and approved the bailout with it's bonus's for failure!

Congressional corruption was rampant and front page news when she was on the Ethics Committee yet NO ONE ever heard her speak out publicly or vote to effectively chastise the wrongdoers.

We don't need this "junket queen" in Washington. We need an independant congressman who is concerned with what is good for the country and considerate of the wishes of the majority, not just the power brokers who fund her campaigns!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 22, 2010 9:56 AM.

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