Yesterday, I wrote that if there was ever a time for the most idealistic Democrats on the Hill to become pragmatists, it was now. I was referring in particular to Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, a former presidential candidate and steadfast progressive who arguably sits further to the left than any of his peers. Today, Kucinich announced he would drop his opposition to the health-care-reform bill and vote yes when it goes to the floor, likely Friday or Saturday this week. With the future of health-care reform hanging in the balance, support from Kucinich is big news.
Kucinich maintains that the bill does not go far enough in providing affordable, universal health care, but he told reporters today that his belief that "health care is a civil right" and his understanding of the "historic nature" of the debate has finally outweighed is concerns. "If my vote is to be counted, let it count now for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health-care reform,” he said this morning.
This is very good news for Pelosi. Support from a renowned lefty like Kucinich will undoubtedly ease concerns, or at least provide cover, for any other nervous progressives (although it's unclear whether other progressives were holding out.) If reform passes, it will also help Democrats mobilize activists going into midterms.
Hill sources tell me Pelosi is "very close" to getting the numbers she needs, and they're confident she'll take a vote this week. Pelosi doesn't lose votes, so if she calls for one, we know she has the numbers.