Roland Burris May Put Kink in Obama-Democrats’ Plan for 60 Votes on Health Care

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 15, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Roland Burris May Put Kink in Obama-Democrats’ Plan for 60 Votes on Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 15
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — On a day when Democrats emerged triumphantly from a meeting with President Barack Obama appearing to have won the vote of Joe Lieberman for their pro-abortion health care bill, they may not be ready to celebrate yet. The Lieberman vote appeared to allow Democrats and Obama to secure 59 votes.

The only holdout left appeared to be pro-life Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska who says he won’t vote for the bill because it funds abortions.

Political observers need to hang on to their hats because pro-abortion Sen. Rolland Burris of Illinois, ironically the lawmakers appointed to take Obama’s seat until the next election, may throw the Senate for a loop.

Burris says that now that the public option has been emaciated to get Lieberman’s support, he may very well vote no on the bill.

The black Democrat is beholden to no one and is already something of a rebel because Senate Democrats didn’t want him to be in the chamber after he was named by embattled pro-abortion Gov. Rod Blagojevich to replace Obama.

“I am committed to voting for a bill that achieves the goals of a public option: competition, cost savings and accountability,” he said Monday night on the Senate floor. “I will not be able to vote for lesser legislation that ignores those fundamentals.”

“My colleagues may have forged a compromise bill that can achieve the 60 votes that will be needed for it to pass. But until this bill addresses cost, competition and accountability in a meaningful way, it will not win mine," he added.

Finishing with a flourish, Burris said, "As Mohandas Gandhi once famously said, ‘All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender.’”

Burris has been overlooked in the health care debate because the bill that had been debated had a public option and he was considered a solid vote.

Observers noted earlier remarks he made threatening to vote no on the bill if the public option were removed, but those remarks didn’t draw much attention at the time. Now, they are considered serious — especially given Burris’ comments on Monday.

Whether the final Senate bill will qualify for Burris’ is still unclear.

Some observers say Burris could still vote no but others say his remarks show him coming down on the side of the bill because it meets the goals he supports without actually, under the proposed compromise, having a full-fledged public option.

But with former Democratic Party chairman and progressive stalwart Howard Dean calling on the senate to kill the bill, the pressure is mounting from the left for Burris, and maybe others, to vote no.

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