Whip Count (No. 14 in a Series) – One Blue Dog Barks No, Another Stays Silent

In House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to secure 216 commitments for Yes votes on the Senate Democratic health care reform bill, she is looking at the 39 House Democrats who voted No last time.

The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent reports that one of those Nos, Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., will remain a No .

Rep Jim Matheson, D-Utah, also voted No last time. His spokesperson, Alyson Heyrend, said he’s undecided.

“He is waiting for, among other items, the CBO score on the changes proposed by the President,” Heyrend says.

Matheson has been the subject of much evidence-free speculation by conservative media about alleged -- and unproven -- vote-buying because his brother Scott was recently nominated to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Significantly, both of Utah’s Republican senators have stated that Scott Matheson’s judgeship has been in the works for a long time and is not part of any quid pro quo.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said in a statement that he’s known “Scott a long time and he is a capable, bright attorney whose experience has prepared him for judicial service.” When asked about the vote-buying accusation, Hatch told Politico , "there's nothing to that," noting that White House had chosen Scott Matheson "a long time ago.” The spokeswoman for the other Utah senator. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, also dismissed the accusation.

“Sen. Bennett has heard of all kinds of pressure being applied and offers being made to Democrats for votes on health care, but Scott Matheson’s nomination is not one of those because it has been in the works for a long time,” spokeswoman Tara DiJulio said .

That didn’t stop Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minn., from calling for an independent investigation into whether the White House is “trading health care votes for judgeships.”


As we’ve previously covered, 220 members of Congress voted for the bill when Pelosi brought the House legislation to a vote.

Since then, four yes votes are no more: Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-La., has said he won’t vote for final passage, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hi., retired to run for governor, Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., also retired, and Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., died.

That means to pass the Senate bill, Pelosi starts out with 216 members of Congress who votes yes last time.

With the retirement of Rep. Eric Massa D-N.Y., there are now only 431 members of Congress total, meaning a majority is 216 votes.

- jpt

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